Highlanders defender Innocent Mapuranga has suffered the consequences of the Bulawayo giant’s heavy defeat to Dynamos in last Saturday’s TM Challenge Cup, as he was stripped of his position as club captain with goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda taking over.
It was another tough day as Dynamos ran riot scoring four goals through Simba Sithole’s double and single strikes from Roderick Mutuma and Washington Pakamisa.
The veteran defender’s future with the club could also be in jeopardy because the axing could mean the player might have fallen out of favour with coach Kelvin Kaindu, who himself is under fire over failure to beat Dynamos in his stint so far.
The Zambian coach got a roasting from the executive over the dispiriting result and they will hope to make up for that disappointment with success in the Chibuku Super Cup.
Highlanders play How Mine in a quarterfinal clash on Sunday and Kaindu has got the option of replacing Mapuranga with Felix Chindungwe who has been has been playing at the base of the midfield of late.
Mapuranga played alongside Dumisani Ndlovu in the match against Dynamos and after shipping four goals, it was the last straw for Kaindu.
He was particularly blamed for Dynamos’ third goal which was scored by Mutuma and for the second goal of the match which Sithole profited from a defensive mix-up.
Vice-captain Eric Mudzingwa struggled to keep up with Tafadzwa Rusike last week, but he has been spared the axe.
Highlanders last beat Dynamos in any competition in 2006 and all along the Bulawayo giants have been a punching bag of their arch foes.
Highlanders will be looking for a new central defensive partnership to plug leakages as they chase the Chibuku Super Cup and the Castle Lager Premier League title.
Bosso currently trail log leaders Dynamos by three points while they have one more point than both ZPC Kariba and Caps United who have 38 points after 22 games.
Kaindu is under pressure to deliver the championship this time having watched Dynamos climb to the podium in the last three seasons.
In the league race, Highlanders have the second-best defence which has conceded just 14 goals, two more than Dynamos who have conceded the least number of goals.
With Dynamos having been knocked out of the Chibuku Super Cup, Highlanders sense an opportunity to finally land some piece of silverware, but the task certainly won’t be easy — How Mine stand in their way — and there is no room for error against a team they beat in a league match this season.
Having scored 31 league goals so far this season, Bosso have shown they are not handicapped in that area and will call upon Charles Sibanda to lead the attack again at Hartsfield.
Kaindu can also look to Njabulo Ncube and Gabriel Nyoni as attacking options, but he will still be concerned by his defensive lines.
Harare giants, Caps United, just like Highlanders, are under pressure to raise their game after their 6-nil mauling at FC Platinum last week. Caps and Platinum clash again on Saturday at Mandava in Zvishavane and the cash-strapped and beleaguered Caps will be desperate to take their revenge.
Caps will be aiming to continue a good run in this tournament for better financial rewards which would alleviate the financial nightmares.
Chibuku Super Cup quarterfinal fixtures:
Saturday: Chiredzi v Harare City, Mandava @ 1pm; FC Platinum v Caps United, Mandava @ 3pm;
Sunday: Highlanders v How Mine, Hartsfield @ 3pm;
Monday: Black Rhinos v Triangle, Ascot @ 3pm.