IF the first leg at Barbourfields Stadium afortnight ago is an indicator of the technical abilities of the two teams, then Highlanders will be convincingly dismissed by Caps United on Sunday at
the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
But ardent soccer followers in this country would advise Caps United coach Charles Mhaluri to underrate Bosso at his own peril. The Bulawayo-based giants are known for their fighting spirit and strong character especially in high profile encounters.
Indeed, although Highlanders trail log-leaders Makepekepe by 10 points, they could just pull the carpet from under the feet of Caps United.
Makepekepe escaped from the jaws of defeat to overturn a 1-3 deficit at Barbourfields when the two teams met a fortnight ago, proving once again Mhlauri’s ability as a coach. On the other hand, Highlanders’ Dick Chama could have been exposed in a match his team didn’t only enjoy an early romp into the lead, but also a massive home advantage.
While Mhlauri maintained a positive attitude even after conceding the third goal early in the second half, Chama surprisingly retreated into a defensive and panicky mood despite all the advantages on his side. In the face of relentless attack from the well-oiled Caps machine, Bosso crumbled.
The same factors, especially the respective coaches’ ability to read the game and react under pressure, will be decisive again on Sunday. This time round Mhlauri will not only be enjoying home advantage but also oozing with confidence after picking up a vital point at Barbourfields.
Caps United will grab the visitors by the throat right from the first whistle and, going by recent matches won by the log-leaders, should Bosso succumb to the early raids, things could as well fall apart for them. An em-barrassing defeat could be inflicted on the visitors.
Ian Bakala, Cephas Chimedza, Artwell Mabhiza, Raymond Undi and David Sengu are being rotated by Mhlauri to add attacking flair from midfield. Fast-maturing anchorman Ashley Muza will again combine with veteran Lloyd Chitembwe to provide the strength and stability in midfield.
However, with seasoned campaigners in their fold such as Gift Lunga, Charles Chilufya, Bhekithemba Ndlovu, Manase Mwanza as well as young Honour Gombami, Bosso could weather the storm before matching the home team man for man. In that event, another stalemate could emerge.
The visitors, like a sly old fox, are well-known for absorbing the pressure and simply knocking the ball around when in possession. When an opportunity presents itself, preda-tors such as Lunga or Chipo Tsodzo grab the priceless goal, and that will be it.
Chama will however have to further tighten his defence of Anzlom Ndlovu, Bhekithemba Nkiwane, Gilbert Banda and Thubelihle Ncube to contain Caps strikers Brian Badza and Leonard Tsipa. Given free rein, either of the two strikers has the potential to bury any team.
The same defensive factor could militate against Caps, and Asani Matora as well as Silent Katumba would be advised to avoid putting any foot wrong, otherwise the usual frailties of goalkeeper Witness Munkuli could just decide the outcome.