CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League log leaders Highlanders coach Jose Baltemar Brito says he is not worried about the team’s struggles in front of goal, insisting floodgates will soon open for the Bulawayo giants as they host struggling Simba Bhora at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Even though Bosso are firmly perched at the top of the league standings with a game in hand, ahead of Caps United, Brito’s team has struggled for goals. His charges have scored only six goals in seven matches and they have played three goalless affairs against ZPC Kariba, Chicken Inn and Sheasham.
Brito said the way they fixed the leaky Bosso defence was the same way they will fix the strikeforce.
“We need to prioritise everyone. It's okay that everyone is talking about goals but when you assess the statistics in the last season, you assess the team by the statistics of conceding goals. When we arrived here we had one of the worst defences in the country. We told you, with the same players we would not concede many goals. We can say to you, with the same attacking players we have now, we will score many goals in the future,” said a bullish Brito.
He added that their tight defence could not be attributed to goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda alone as it was a team effort.
“We don’t look at the team as a department, we look at the team as one. So, we have six clean sheets. But, for example, if the opponent doesn't not shoot one shot on target, it doesn't mean the goalkeeper is the man of the match because we didn't concede a goal.
“If you look at Ariel in the last game at home (against Hwange), he did not make one save. So prioritising the goalkeeping department just because we have only conceded one goal is not fair. We know that Sibanda understands that, because we need to change the mindset because this is teamwork. We don't split when we go for training, we don’t train defence or attack. We train everyone," he added.
The major concern for Highlanders is the fact that they have failed to score in the first half in six of their seven matches, except against FC Platinum but Brito is not losing sleep over that.
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"This is not a big worry for us because there is no law in football that says you score in the first half or second half. The game has 90 minutes and if at the end of the game we win every game in the 89th minute with a goal, we have signed (points are) already here," said the Brazil-born Portuguese gaffer.
"The boys are trying their best and this means that the goals will come in the future in the first half too. We are not worried about it. So it's a question of following the planning, maintaining the plan. It's 90 minutes. We can score on one or we can score on 89 because the score is what we want," said Brito.
Simba Bhora head to Barbourfields under pressure with their fans having vented their anger at head coach Tonderayi Ndiraya last week, after the 1-0 loss to Cranbone Bullets at the National Sports Stadium. Brito hopes that this will open the game up as Simba need nothing short of victory.
“Our thinking is about collecting three points. At the beginning of the season, the expectations about Simba were high and at the moment you see that they are not happy with their points. So we just expect the guys to come to play to provide a good game for the fans. We are preparing our boys for both situations, we know some of the teams just come here (Barbourfields) not to play football but to frustrate (us). But at this moment, what we read is that Simba needs to win, so the coach needs to think if he comes here to frustrate or to win because if he doesn't win his position is under fire,” Brito said.
Bosso will welcome back leftback Archiford Faira and Ray Lunga to the team and there are no injury worries in camp.
The 13th-placed Simba are desperate for positive results as they are on a three-match winless run. Ndiraya has received backing from the executive, but he knows too well that the patience has to be backed up by positive results, starting with Sunday’s match. The likes of Ronald Chitiyo, Patson Jaure and Blessing Moyo will need to show their experience to silence the vociferous crowd that is expected at Barbourfields.