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Injuries cost Highlands Park

Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama
Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Owen da Gama was thrilled to see Highlands Park beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 on Saturday to qualify for the semifinals of the MTN8, but he regretted the injuries suffered by three of his key players in that match.

Lindokuhle Mbatha, Limbikani Mzava and Makhehlene Makhaula, all limped off with what Da Gama called serious injuries, making the Highlands coach cringe as he feels he has "limited resources" to properly replace the trio.

"It's always difficult," said Da Gama of the injuries. "But it happens in football, injuries are due to happen."

Da Gama bemoaned the fact that there were players he intended to bring on during the match on Saturday, but he couldn't because of the forced substitutions.

"Three forced changes. We had plans to bring on [Mokete] Mogaila with his speed to try and unlock them [Bucs] a little bit more, but we couldn't do that."

"Thela [Ngobeni, the goalkeeper] this was his first game and Ndoro hasn't played a full game this season.

"We had forced changes, but as the gods of football will have it, Marks Munyai came on as a forced sub and contributed to the goal and Wayde Jooste, who also came on as a sub, scored the goal.

"So in a way it helped us, but it was not the way we had planned it.

"We really wanted to come out with a full attack. We knew that Ndoro will give us 60 or 70 minutes and then we can bring on some pacey players."

With a limited squad of less than 30 players, Da Gama admitted it will be difficult to replace the trio if their injuries were to take time to heal.

Da Gama will be hoping that by the time they visit Black Leopards at the Thohoyandou Stadium in an Absa Premiership tie tomorrow, some of the other injured players would have been declared fit to play.