By Grace Chingoma
NEW Highlanders coach Mkhupali “Mr Copper” Masuku began his stint on a positive note when his charges beat champions Gunners in a Premiership tie at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The former Bosso player was elevated into the hot seat following the departure of Egyptian coach Mohammed Fathi and made history by becoming the youngest coach to take charge of the big Premiership club at the age of 30.
He quickly got down to business to collect maximum points from Gunners who also lost 1-0 in the reverse match at Barbourfields in May. Warriors’ fringe player Zephaniah Ngodzo thrust the visitors into the lead six minutes before the breather while Norman Maroto equalised in the 65th minute.
But the visitors quickly cancelled Maroto’s goal in the 69th minute through Rahman Kutsanzira to hand Gunners their second defeat in four days. Gunners lost 4-1 to DeMbare in a Zaoga Golden Jubilee semi-final match on Sunday at Rufaro.
Gunners coach Darlington Dodo blamed his defence, which has conceded seven goals in three matches, and said they would need to be at their best when they meet in-form CAPS United next Wednesday at Rufaro.
“I think we are a bit jittery in defence, once we lose the ball we are not following up to recover and end up conceding soft goals. And this is not good because if you continue to lose points you tend to lose the grip on the leading pack,” said Dodo.
Bosso mentor, Masuku, said there was still a lot of work that needed to be done. “I am happy to win my first game in charge, but it is too early to say much but we will take each game as it comes,” said Masuku.
The match, which was watched by the Warriors team before their afternoon training session, was a rather dull affair in the first period with the hosts dominating proceedings, but they failed to convert any of the crosses, which were whipped in by Qadr Amini from the flank. The visitors’ breakthrough came in the 39th minute when Zephaniah Ngodzo’s volley first hit the cross bar before settling into the net, giving Gunners keeper Tafadzwa Dube no chance.
The champions were rewarded when Premiership leading goal-scorer Maroto met substitute Tapiwa Mangezi’s cross and headed the equaliser. However, the celebrations were short-lived when Kutsanzira scored the winning goal four minutes later when he left his marker for dead and slotted home.
Gunners: T. Dube, Q. Amini, D. Veremu, P. Chinungwa, E. Meleka, H. Zvirekwi, L. Masakusi (T. Mangwendere 77th minute), D. Rediyoni, A. Sadiki, N. Ziwini (T. Mangezi 67th minute), N. Maroto.
Highlanders: A. Sibanda, B. Dube, B. Choto, B. Ndlovu, Z. Ngodzo, I. Mapuranga, M. Mupera, R. Kutsanzira (B. Kangwa 79th minute), J. Ngodzo, F. Kanda (S. Gate 71st minute), E. Mudzingwa.