By Innocent Kurira
Highlanders 1-1 Chapungu
Highlanders battled for a point against a stubborn Chapungu outfit in a Castle Lager Premiership match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Bosso had to come from a goal down to salvage a point in a game they dominated possession, but hardly troubled the Chapungu back line.
Chapungu went ahead in the 21st minute when alert attacking midfielder Bruno Mtigo intercepted a weak back pass by Peter Muduhwa intended for goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda and slotted home at the second attempt after his initial shot was blocked by the keeper.
Highlanders equalised in the 68th minute through midfielder Adrian Silla, who headed home a MacClive Phiri cross from the right to calm the nerves of Bosso’s increasingly restless faithfuls.
Bosso made a number of changes to the side that edged Bulawayo City 1-0 in mid-week by welcoming back captain Honest Moyo, while Newman Sianchali led the attack in place of Ozias Zibande and youngster Adrian Mbeba was also thrust into the heart of the defence partnering Muduhwa. Right-back Phiri started the game as a right winger in the absence of the injured Gabriel Nyoni.
Highlanders started the game strongly knocking the ball around, but failed to get behind the Chapungu defence and all their neat build-ups from the back came to nothing.
Godfrey Makaruse got Bosso’s first chance in the 10th minute when he wriggled free and fired a low shot that was saved by Chapungu goalkeeper Talbert Shumba.
Five minutes later Sianchali made a great run on the counter, side stepped one defender to create an opening for himself, only to shot straight into the hands of Shumba.
Bosso struggled to create any other clear cut chances and as the game wore on, the visitors gained confidence on the ball and started to string some neat passes of their own with Mtigo and Allan Tavarwisa seizing control of the midfield.
They were rewarded when their quick closing down of spaces forced Muduhwa to make a rush back-pass that was intercepted and scored by Mtigo. Mtigo almost grabbed a brace in the 39th minute, only to crash his effort against the crossbar from just outside the box after being set up by veteran striker Philip Marufu.
Bosso then resorted to long range efforts after failing to breach the Chapungu defence, with Makaruse, Silla and Ben Musaka all blazing their efforts over the bar as desperation crept into their game.
Bosso started the second half on the front foot and continued to enjoy better ball possession, with Chapungu looking to defend their one-goal lead.
Makaruse almost grabbed the equaliser through a header that went just wide from Phiri’s cross in the 53rd minute.
Skipper Moyo was stretchered off after a crude tackle by Maxwell Mavhuto, who escaped with a warning from referee Artwell Mazire.
Highlanders piled more pressure in search of a late winner after drawing level in the 68th minute, but their rhythm and momentum were constantly broken by Chapungu keeper Shumba, who kept feigning injury each time he made or attempted to make a save.
The referee’s final whistle was met with boos by the Bosso fans, who felt referee Mazire was complicit in Shumba’s time wasting.
Bosso coach Madida Ndlovu said his charges need to learn to turn half chances into goals.
“I think we gave away a soft goal because of a lapse in concentration at the back. I think we conceded that goal very early in the game and after l called on the boys to improve on their mental strength, they did extremely well in that regard today and l commend them for that,” said Ndlovu.
“It was a much better performance compared to our last game. We moved the ball well and our pressing was good. However, the boys just need to turn the half chances into goals. As it is, the boys look like they need clear cut chances to score, but in football you need to convert the half chances to win games.”
His opposite number Rodwell Dhlakama did not turn up for the post match press conference.
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Charlton Siamalonga, Honest Moyo (Ozias Zibande 55th min), MacClive Phiri, Adrian Silla (Bukhosi Ncube 86th min), Brian Banda, Newman Sianchali, Ben Musaka, Godfrey Makaruse (Ray Lunga 74th min), Adrian Mbeba, Peter Muduhwa
Chapungu: Talbert Shumba, Emmanuel Chitauro, Ricky Bota, Blessed Mbavarira, Moenda Muchangami, Edmore Muzanenhamo, Brighton Mugoni, Tapiwa Kumbuyani (Rodwell Matutu 90th min), Allan Tavarwisa, Bruno Mtigo ( Maxwell Mavuto 45th min) , Philip Marufu (Ian Nyoni 76th min).- The Chronicle
P W D L F A GD Pts
Ngezi Platinum 14 12 2 0 26 4 22 38
FC Platinum 14 11 2 1 20 4 16 35
Highlanders 14 7 5 2 15 8 7 26
Chicken Inn 14 6 6 2 16 10 6 24
Harare City 14 6 6 2 14 11 3 24
Caps United 14 6 5 3 19 12 7 23
Triangle United 14 7 2 5 13 10 3 23
Black Rhinos 14 4 6 4 9 10 -1 18
Herentals 14 3 6 5 6 11 -5 15
ZPC Kariba 14 3 6 5 8 15 -7 15
Dynamos 14 3 5 6 11 15 -4 14
Yadah FC 14 3 5 6 11 19 -8 14
Nichrut 14 3 4 7 11 16 -5 13
Chapungu 14 3 4 7 9 16 -7 13
Bulawayo Chiefs 14 2 6 6 10 16 -6 12
Shabanie Mine 14 2 6 6 14 22 -8 12
Bulawayo City 14 3 1 10 12 18 -6 10
Mutare City 14 1 5 8 11 17 -6 8