HARARE – Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu says his players must be mentally strong to withstand a possible hostile reception from the Rufaro Stadium crowd in their penultimate Castle Premiership match against Harare City on Sunday.
The Zambian believes the clash with City is crucial to Highlanders’ title aspirations and his players have to be fully prepared to conquer against all odds.
Highlanders shot to the top of the Castle Premiership table with a contentious 1-0 home win over Triangle on Wednesday to go one point clear of second-placed Dynamos and Harare City with two games to go in the season.
And now on Sunday they face fellow title chasers City, who are eyeing their maiden championship in their second season of top-flight football.
Although they do not have a huge fan base, the Sunshine Boys are likely to benefit from supporters of defending champions Dynamos, who will be backing City to do their club a favour by derailing Bosso and hand back the initiative to the Glamour Boys.
“I think the Harare City game is not going to be an easy one and we are likely to face a hostile crowd, but all we need is just to try and work on the mental aspect of the players so that they can withstand the hostilities from the opposition,” Kaindu told the Daily News yesterday.
Kaindu also chose to remain grounded despite his team’s rise to the summit of the log with two matches remaining in the season.
Highlanders took control of the title race following the Triangle win on Wednesday, but the Zambian coach insists that it is still premature to talk about Highlanders lifting the league championship.
“There is still a long way to go and I have always said the championship will be decided after ninety minutes of the last game of the season,” Kaindu said.
“Any team in the top rungs of the log standings has a chance to win the championship.”
Meanwhile, Kaindu has voiced concern over his team’s lack of character, something he says a championship chasing team should have.
“It is good that we got three points, but I am a bit disappointed because although we played well and created a lot of chances, if we are to have a team that is going to become champions then we just need a little bit of character,” he said.
“I am not complaining about the way we played, but I am talking about the character that the team showed. There is a time that you don’t need to play well, but just go out there and get the three points.”
Highlanders moved to 51 points after the midweek victory over Triangle.
The Bulawayo giants will welcome back their chief striker Njabulo Ncube, who missed their last two league encounters through suspension.
City, on the other hand, may unleash former Monomotapa striker Osborne Mukuradare in the hope that the player repeats his heroics of last season when he scored a hat-trick for Monomotapa in their 3-0 win over Bosso at Rufaro.
Saturday: Motor Action v Caps United (Rufaro).
Sunday: Chicken Inn v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Black Mambas v Tripple B (Morris Depot), How Mine v Platinum (Luveve), Buffaloes v Monomotapa (Sakubva), Black Rhinos v Hwange (Rimuka), Harare City v Highlanders (Rufaro), Shabanie Mine v Triangle (Maglas).