HARARE – Highlanders coach Erol Akbay has demanded victory from his charges when they face PSL champions CAPS United in the ZNA Commander Charities Soccer Shield final showdown at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
Akbay, who has transformed the Bulawayo giants into a powerful force since joining them last year, insisted he will be looking for nothing short of victory as Bosso look to lay their hands on what could be their first piece of silverware this season.
The Bulawayo giants, who are the defending champions following their triumph against Harare City last season, progressed to this year’s final with a convincing 3-0 victory against FC Platinum last month.
And Akbay revealed he would pick his strongest possible side as he would use the match to gauge their preparedness ahead of the new season that is scheduled to get off the ground next month.
“There is no doubt that this is going to be a very difficult game for us,” Akbay told the Daily News yesterday.
“I think we have had great preparations so far — and it could be even better. We are definitely going to field our strongest side because it’s important to see how much ground we have covered as well as assessing some of the new guys that have joined.”
The Bulawayo giants retained most of their players from last season who include 2016 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League’s Rookie of the Year Prince Dube, veteran Ralph Matema, Gabriel Nyoni and Nhlanhla Ndlovu among others.
Bosso have signed Roderick Mutuma after he was shown the exit door by Dynamos.
Mutuma, however, seems to have done enough to win over the Bosso fans’ hearts following his outstanding performance against FC Platinum in the semi-final in which he provided two assists.
Apart from Mutuma, Highlanders have also secured the services of another striker from Equatorial Guinea, Manuel Esono Obiang Buale and Tambwe Kalunga of DR Congo, who turned out for relegated Beitbridge-based Premiership side Border Strikers last season.
The Bulawayo giants also roped in midfielder Denzel Khumalo who joined from Bantu Rovers while former Motor Action winger Yves Ebabali is also reportedly to have impressed Akbay and might sign on the dotted line anytime soon.
CAPS United on the other hand will be eager to maintain their fine form that has seen them eliminate five-time African champions TP Mazembe out of the African Champions League.
The Green Machine secured their place in Saturday’s final at the expense of their bitter rivals Dynamos whom they thumped 3-1 in the other semi-final.
Winners of the tournament are guaranteed $12 000 while the losing finalists will pocket $8 000.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Army, who are organisers of the tournament, have pegged the gate charges at $3 for the rest of the ground and $5 for VIP.