From Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Bulawayo
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . 0 (1)
Hwange . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . 0
HWANGE failed to stop the Highlanders juggernaut when the two teams met in a closely fought Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match played at Barbourfields Stadium.
Chipangano though made their own piece of history by becoming the first team in the league this season to hold Highlanders to a nill all draw at Barbourfields Stadium but their world collapsed in the 78th minute through a beautiful header by super substitute Beavan Chikaka who had come on for Graham Ncube four minutes earlier.
“I am so happy to have scored at home and I dedicate the goal to our supporters who have been behind us and promise them that the goals will indeed continue coming,” said an elated Chikaka after the match.
The game itself started on a rather slow pace as Hwange seemed to apply the Chelsea strategy of trying by all means to minimise damage by literally putting a bus in front of their goalkeeper Timothy Sibanda as evidenced by having six defence minded players.
Highlanders, known for their hunger for goals, controlled proceedings, forcing Hwange to play in their own half but the final touch was always their biggest undoing.
Tennant Chilumba’s boys however had a better share of the proceedings in the crucial midfield area but were running out of ideas whenever going forward. They looked dangerous though when veteran striker Gilbert Zulu was in possession. He played well.
Bosso could have opened the floodgates in the 21st minute when Graham brilliantly set up Simon Munawa who however shot weakly at a drawn out Sibanda. Munawa had a rather below par performance by his standards and was to be substituted in the 66th minute for young Arnold Ndiweni.
Munawa could have put Bosso ahead again in the 34th minute but his first time screamer missed the target by inches with the Highlanders fans already up in their feet. The first half was to end with the crowd experiencing no goals for the first time this season.
Hwange coach made some positional changes for the second half which still showed that all they wanted was to reduce damage, which they knew was just but imminent.
“Bosso played well but I think we gave them so much room in the midfield especially in the second half,” said Chilumba. The second segment though had little to write home about until the last quarter in which the Hwange world literally collapsed in front of them.
With the match seemingly heading for a draw, Kelvin Kaindu’s magic touch came into the fore, Graham was pulled out for Chikaka and four minutes after, a fast improving Bruce Kangwa flighted a cross from the left flank and up stepped Chikaka with a brilliant flashing header that gave Sibanda no chance and the stadium erupted, so did the tension on the field of play.
As Highlanders were charging in search of another goal, another substitute Masimba Mambare was hit by Daniel Kamunenga in an off the ball incident and the out of sorts referee, Mlindeli Ndebele, who for the better part of the match was seeing play from a different world from the rest of the crowd, red carded an innocent, Aaron Katebe.
The decision was correct yes but it was given to the wrong man. As the Zambian was walking out, he too showed a total lack of discipline, something Hwange players are not known for, by pocking assistant referee, Salani Ncube and his coach Chilumba rushed in to warn him and again Ndebele came charging and for reasons still known to him, gave Chilumba his marching orders as well.
“I was cooling tempers down and I really don’t know why he asked me to leave the pitch,” said Chilumba. After the match Highlanders coach, Kaindu praised his charges for a good performance but expressed disappointment that they did not score many goals as they would have wanted.
“It was a good match, unfortunately we scored just a single goal. We did manage though to put our opponents under pressure,” said Kaindu who said they never panicked even as the game wore on with no goals as they knew that a goal will inevitably come.
Highlanders plays Shabanie Mine at Maglas Stadium on Wednesday before their blockbuster match against perennial rivals Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium next Sunday.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, B Tshuma, I Mapuranga, E Mudzingwa, M Maphosa, B Kangwa, M Ncube, S Munawa (A Ndiweni 66th min), P Moyo, H Masuku (M Mambare 57th min), G Ncube (B Chikaka 74th min)
Unused subs: M Diya, Knox Mutizwa, H Moyo
Hwange: T Sibanda, E Chipeta, D Boriwondo, O Mpofu (O Lunga 83rd min), R Chinyengetere, G Zulu (N Siwela 75th min), F Zikumbawire, D Kamunenga, W Mhango, G Ndlovu, A Katebe Unused subs: P Mhari, E Rusike, T Sibelo A Tavariswa
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