Zimbabwe: Dembare, Bosso Brace for Battle of Zimbawe

AFTER enduring a roller coaster weekend, in which supporters' emotions were driven to extremes, giants Dynamos and Highlanders are set for an intense week as they prepare for the long-awaited Castle Lager Premiership football blockbuster.

The country's biggest football clubs will go into the match at Barbourfields this coming Sunday on the back of some largely disappointing results in their last matches.

Highlanders had to come from a two-goal deficit against Bulawayo Chiefs at Barbourfields, with Adrian Silla's last minute free-kick securing a point in the 2-2 draw.

Dynamos, on the other hand, shot themselves in the foot against Bulawayo City when they conceded a last minute goal to settle for the share of the spoils.

DeMbare even had the false luxury of missing from the penalty spot when they were leading 1-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining.

But the match ended 1-1 and DeMbare spurned a good chance to extend their lead at the top of the table. They could have stretched the gap to four points after their closest rivals in the championship race Chicken Inn had stumbled the previous day in a goalless draw against Herentals.

Dynamos coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, said it is important to work on his players' mentality ahead of the trip to Bulawayo to face Highlanders.

This comes as DeMbare have struggled in the last two games against basement sides Whawha and Bulawayo City, despite collecting four points from them. Dynamos conceded in almost similar fashion in both games as they failed to deal with corner kicks.

"It all goes back to the issue of concentration," said Ndiraya.

"If you look at the concentration levels in this game and the concentration that we had when we played against Manica Diamonds, it's quite different.

"So it's the approach and the mentality towards these matches which is really concerning. But it's something which we can go and work on at training and hopefully we can get more positive results.

"The mentality is what we have to work on but believe you me, we may not need to really motivate these guys against Highlanders. They know how big this game is going to be.

"It was really a struggle to motivate them in these last two matches (against the league's minnows) and I think I have said it in my pre-match interviews.

"But the Highlanders match is a big match, one which they always look forward to. We may not really be involved much in terms of motivating the players.

"But look, we just have to be strong and go and get a result in Bulawayo," said Ndiraya.

Dynamos are leading the log standings with 30 points from 14 games. Chicken Inn are second on 28 points and they have a potentially explosive tie against wounded CAPS United this Sunday at the National Sports Stadium.

But for Ndiraya, DeMbare may need to go back to the basics again, like defending from set-pieces and practicing scoring drills. Dynamos have had the best defence this season.

They have let in six goals in 14 games. But conceding two in the last two games against the league's minnows, from corner kick situations, has left Ndiraya concerned.

His team has also been more visible in the final third, of late, but their conversion has remained disappointing.

Still they will carry to Bulawayo a nine-match unbeaten run, although Ndiraya and his players would have wanted to face Highlanders on a high. They know the draw against Bulawayo City was unacceptable and the fans have voiced their disapproval.

"It was a winnable game, we created lots of chances, the same way we did when we played Whawha. But I think we are coming short in finishing and converting the chances that come our way.

"But apart from that I'm so disappointed with the way we conceded; the game was almost over then we conceded in the manner we did.

"It's so disappointing for a coach to concede from a set-place because you have all the time to organise yourselves. You are looking at the ball and then defend but we lacked concentration in that area.

"In fact, we were not supposed to concede the corner kick in the first place. So I thought we dropped in terms of concentration. We were sluggish, I don't know if it was tiredness or what.

"The ball was going out. It needed just communication from the other teammates but Sylvester (Appiah) actually took the ball to play and that cross resulted in that goal.

"Apart from that, this is the second game that we have conceded what I can call a silly goal and especially from corner kicks.

"We devote training sessions for these set-pieces and to concede in such a manner is quite disappointing. So two so-called small teams scoring against us with the way we have played in the past matches is quite disappointing, I must say," said Ndiraya.

While Ndiraya is facing the headache of keeping top spot, his Bosso counterpart is in more trouble following an indifferent start to the campaign. Highlanders currently sit on 11th position with 16 points, a massive 14 behind log leaders DeMbare.

The upcoming game against DeMbare could define his future as Bosso coach after surviving sustained pressure in the last few months.

Bosso have won only three league games this season and drawn seven. The run has not gone down well with the fans who have not made it secret they want him sacked.

They chanted "Mandla kahambe", meaning coach Mpofu should go, midway through the second half, as Bosso trailed Chiefs by two goals, before Adrian Silla scored twice late on to salvage a point.

"I liked the fighting spirit of the boys, who I feel played for me. You could see the fans were negative (when they started chanting), but the boys got a point and now the fans are jubilant," said Mpofu.

Castle Lager Premiership Fixtures

Friday: Yadah v FC Platinum (NSS)

Saturday: Ngezi Platinum v Tenax (Baobab, 1pm), Herentals v Bulawayo Chiefs (NSS), Bulawayo City v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields), Whawha v Harare City (Ascot)

Sunday: CAPS Utd v Chicken Inn (NSS), Highlanders v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Manica Diamonds v Black Rhinos (Sakubva), Triangle v Cranborne Bullets (Gibbo).

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