10-man CAPS United hold Bosso
By Lovemore Dube
Highlanders . . . .0
CAPS United. . . . 0
BULAWAYO – Ten-man CAPS United underlined their credentials for a first league title in eight years with a gritty performance against a Highlanders side that has forgotten how to win matches in this incident-filled Castle Lager Premiership tie at Barbourfields yesterday.
The Green Machine had defender Arnold Chivheya sent off in the first half but held on to secure a big point against a Bosso side from whom they have now taken four, out of a possible six, points this season after taking nothing from the Bulawayo giants last year.
Coach Taurai Mangwiro will be delighted by the way his men fought for their point and they remain in the running for the league title although, on the dark side, another big Premiership tie in the City of Kings, featuring one of the Harare giants, was marred by crowd trouble as missiles rained on the pitch.
Twenty four hours earlier, there were similar disturbances at Luveve where Dynamos fans threw missiles onto the field during their team’s league match against How Mine. Highlanders have now not won in four games, including three league matches, in which they have only picked one out of nine points.
Controversial Fifa panel assistant referee, Brighton Nyika, who was included on the elite referees and for the local Premiership early this year, stole the show for the wrong reasons at Barbourfields yesterday. He had his flag up for offside, in the 23rd minute, which was a good call as the Green Machine attacked.
But with the call having been made, and the referee having not seen the flag, a CAPS United striker tumbled under the challenge of towering Highlanders centreback Eric Mudzingwa. Referee Philani Ncube, who had not seen Nyika’s flag go up, was right to point to the spot.
But the alert Highlanders players had seen the flag go up and protested against the penalty decision, saying the ball was dead by the time the incident in the penalty area took place, because they should have been awarded the benefit of a free-kick from the off-side decision.
Nyika, to the surprise of the 9000 fans, put his flag down and rushed to take his position for the spot-kick to be taken. The right decision would have been for him to remain rooted to his spot with his flag up. This would have forced Ncube to consult him.
With Highlanders players protesting, CAPS United fans started throwing missiles onto the pitch. It took the fourth official, Bekezela Makeka, to discuss the issue with Ncube for the centreman to consult Nyika and the decision to award the penalty was reversed and, instead, the offside call was upheld.
Highlanders quickly started play, with CAPS United players mobbing Ncube, and Milton Ncube was brought down by Arnold Chiveya in an incident that could have earned the visitors’ defender a card.
Caps United lost defender Chivheya in the 40th minute after he needlessly hacked down Milton Ncube with a tackle from behind. The visiting team’s players showed indiscipline by protesting the marching order and Philani was too lenient with them.
The referee was obstructed by the CAPS United players and first assistant Abraham Manda also missed the incident. Chivheya escaped without a card but not for long.
He was sent off in the 40th minute, for another tackle on Milton, for a second bookable offence after having been booked earlier, for unsporting behaviour, when he stood within a metre of a Highlanders’ defender who had the ball for a throw-in.
CAPS United were by far the better side in the first half with some methodical build ups from the back.
They appeared to take advantage of Highlanders’ ball players in midfield — Bheki Ncube, Milton Ncube, Masimba Mambare and Heritein Masuku — who left Hillary Madzivanyika overwhelmed by maurading CAPS United midfielders who were swift on the counter.
Stocky Dominic Chungwa, one of the players Bosso let slip in the off-season, could have opened the scoring in the fourth minute after coming to the end of a pass from the left by Leonard Fiyado but shot over the bar.
Bosso came close in the seventh minute through Graham Ncube who headed a Milton cross from the left over the bar. Munyaradzi Diya justified his top rating and national team call-up, with a brilliant save off Chungwa’s close range shot in the 10th minute.
Five minutes later Chungwa set up Dominic Mukandi who fired from five metres and drew the best out of Diya who went down with another top of the shelf save. Then came Nyika’s show of horror in the 23rd minute.
Bheki came close on 33 minutes after being fed by Milton but the burly midfielder’s effort went over the bar. Highlanders’ players’ mediocrity was then exposed in the next 50 minutes.
They failed to take advantage of their numerical supremacy, and one would have thought it was the Bulawayo team who had lost several players when they had a full complement of personnel.
Instead of knocking the ball around to find gaps in the opposition’s rearguard, Bosso players tended to be negative holding on to the ball unnecessarily too long instead of playing it to better positioned players.
The players appeared jittery with too many stray passes and lack of desire to venture forward and rightback Simon Munawa was the chief culprit and, for the better part of the game, stayed unmarked.
In the 66th minute Beavan Chikaka reacted slowly to Njabulo Ncube’s pass allowing Tafadzwa Dube to come off his line and avert possible damage. Tendai Samanja saw his side-footed effort go wide with the Bosso goalkeeper off his line in the 67th minute.
Masuku’s long range effort was saved by Dube with a good save in the 77th minute.
Mudzingwa, playing as a centreback in a partnership with Innocent Mapuranga for the first time in many months, nearly gave Highlanders the goal that could have won the game in the 79th minute but his shot was cleared off the line by a CAPS United defender.
Mangwiro praised his team’s performance.
“It was a good game for us, I’m happy with a point away from home as we showed our intentions. We have to do better than the first half and continue collecting positive results away from home,” said Mangwiro.
On the penalty decision, Mangwiro said; “It was an unfortunate call, I told the guys to control their tempers and keep focus, to which they responded positively.”
Kevin Kaindu, the Highlanders gaffer, said his boys tried their best.
“We tried especially coming from two losses and it’s difficult to come from a losing streak,” said Kaindu.
“What’s important is to get back to the top of the log.” The Chronicle
Highlanders — M Diya, S Munawa (M Maphosa 71st minute), B Kangwa, E Mudzingwa, I Mapuranga, H Madzivanyika, H Masuku, M Mambare (N Ncube 54th minute), B Ncube, G Ncube (B Chikaka 50th minute), Milton Ncube
CAPS United — T Dube, T Khumbuyani, T Munyanduri, M Muchenje (S Makatuka 42nd minute), T Samanja, H Zvirekwi, A Chivheya, R Kutsanzira (G Phiri 81st minute), D Mukandi, D Chungwa, L Fiyado (D Rediyoni 83rd minute)