By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
How Mine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
BULAWAYO – Nineteen-year-old Thomas Chidewu opened his scoring account for Highlanders with an eighth minute scrambled goal to boot How Mine out of the Zimbabwe National Army Charities Shield at Barbourfields yesterday to set up a date in the final against old foes Dynamos.
But the match was once again marred by some missile-throwing Highlanders fans who are now into the habit of disrupting matches at this famous venue in Bulawayo.
It was returnee striker Obadiah Tarumbwa who did all the donkey work after he roasted James Chitereki on the right flank before bringing in an inviting cross which the How Mine rearguard failed to deal with.
Bosso, who were the better side in the first 10 minutes, then threatened to run riot but their steam fizzled out almost soon after the goal. Despite having periods of brilliance, they failed to create more clear-cut chances.
The experience in the How Mine line-up proved to be important as they never really panicked after Bosso’s opening goal with Nefitary Ndale proving a handful to the Highlanders central defence of Douglas Sibanda and new skipper Felix Chindungwe.
Another interesting duel was between Charles Sibanda and Tarumbwa in the middle of the park, duels that were won on majority of cases by the Highlanders player.
In the 16th minute the stocky Ndale thought he had won a penalty after going down inside the box under the challenge of Chindungwe but instead he earned himself an unnecessary yellow card from referee Nduna Nkosana for simulation.
Nkosana had a firm grip of the match.
After half-an-hour Highlanders won their first corner that was taken by Bruce Kangwa, who had a rather quiet game yesterday. On that occasion though, his corner found a rising Erick Mudzingwa whose glancing header hit the crossbar with Donovan Bernard, in goals for the gold miners, diving in vain.
Three minutes later Luke Masomere’s boys could have levelled matters had young Mgcini Sibanda remained calm while inside the 12 yard box but the youngster was elaborate and shot well over the bar.
Highlanders goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni was tested in the 42nd minute by right back Tapuwa Kumbuyani whose curler forced the former to punch it away to safety.
The second half belonged to How Mine as play was concentrated mainly in the Highlanders half but the gold miners could not convert possession into goals.
“We had the better of the exchanges and I think we got more chances than Highlanders but unfortunately we failed to score. They got their chance and buried it,” said How Mine coach Luke Masomere after the match. His counterpart Bongani Mafu seemed to agree.
“My boys did themselves a lot of favour by scoring,” said Mafu.
With Highlanders back pedalling for the better part of the second half, Masomere pulled out Charles Sibanda in the 66th minute for veteran Wonder Sithole while Mafu countered by bringing in Knox Mutizwa for Chidewu a minute later.
The two substitutes, however, failed to justify their coaches’ faith in them. Twelve minutes before the end, Mafu reinforced his defence, taking out Gabriel Nyoni for lanky Teenage Hadebe who went to the central defence while Chindungwe joined Mudzingwa in the anchoring role. Highlanders were now watertight in defence and it ended like that.
“It was a good and balanced match, we really played well and I never expected such a performance from my guys especially after such a lengthy break without a match,” said Masomere after the match. He said Bosso got a lucky goal and hung on to it until the end.
Mafu said the match was a good test against a good side like How Mine.
“We hope the win will spur us on. If we play well the fans will continue coming in their numbers,” said Mafu.
The Highlanders coach, however, had no kind words for fans who three missiles in protest over an arrest of a fan by the police in the Soweto stand.
Highlanders: N Nyoni, W Chingodzo, F Chindungwe, H Moyo, D Sibanda, G Nyoni (T Hadebe 78th min), E Mudzingwa, N Masuku, T Chidewu (K Mutizwa 67th min), O Tarumbwa
How Mine: D Benard, T Kumbuyani, J Chitereki, N Mukumbi, N Tachi, D Chafa, B Marere, C Sibanda (W Sithole 66th min), N Ndale, M Sibanda (K Musharu 65th min), T Masuku (M Mupera 83rd min). The Chronicle