By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Highlanders 2-0 Triangle United
Visiting Triangle United coach Taurai Mangwiro attributed his side’s defeat yesterday to heavy police presence at Barbourfields Stadium, saying this intimidated his players.
The former Zifa technical director questioned whether his side was at Barbourfields for a Castle Lager Premiership encounter or for war.
Highlanders hired 120 police officers to keep the peace compared to 150 they hired for their ill-fated game against Dynamos at the same venue. The game was abandoned in the 42nd minute following crowd trouble soon after Dynamos had levelled the scores 1-1.
Bosso’s game against FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium last week also faced the same fate after the home side had converted a hotly disputed penalty.
Highlanders were charged by the PSL disciplinary committee for both incidents and the outcomes are still pending.
Bosso decided on high police visibility at Barbourfields yesterday to keep the peace and prevent the type of unruliness that took centre stage against Dynamos and FC Platinum.
Ironically, Mangwiro had in the run-up to yesterday’s game indicated that Highlanders were weak and he only feared for the safety of his players.
It’s therefore mindboggling for him to blame his side’s defeat on the strong presence of the men and women deployed to keep them safe.
Bosso wrapped up the match in the first half with two well taken goals from Prince Dube in the ninth minute and his strike partner Rodreck Mutuma on the stroke of half time.
However, Mangwiro felt referee Happy Mabhena should have awarded his side a penalty in the 54th minute after second half substitute King Nadolo handled in an effort to clear. Mabhena instead awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the penalty area.
“Congratulations to Highlanders, they grabbed the opportunities that came their way and punished us, but I have some reservations as far as the atmosphere itself was concerned.
“The heavy presence of the police; I don’t think football needs all this. I know it’s for the safety of the fans, but when the players see such a scenario, what is it; are we here for sport, are we here for war?
“You must have seen a big decision in the second half and had we been given that decision, perhaps things could have gone our way, but somehow because the referee is trying to control the crowd, he doesn’t want the fans to be riotous, he doesn’t give a decision,” said Mangwiro.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Highlanders, we were careless in the way we defended and allowed them to score those two goals, but is the atmosphere conducive for football? Do players need all this presence of the police to express themselves?
“And the referee, remember he is human, sometimes he fails to make the right call because you want to think about controlling a riotous crowd and it’s very unfortunate for teams that are going to travel here for as long as we have this kind of atmosphere.
“No excuses for losing to Highlanders, they did well, but where is our football going? You saw the incident that he gave us, right on the line but where does the line belong? The truth of the matter is the offence happened in the penalty area, but somehow he chooses to put it on the line, but where does the line belong, the line belongs to the penalty area.
“If we are not honest, it will take our football backwards. It may sound a small thing, but to me it made a very big difference, perhaps we were going to score. At 2-1 we are right back in it, this is what I am saying. The referee made a decision because there was some controversy at Mandava, now they cannot make the right call because you feel you want to be controlling the crowd,” Mangwiro said.
Bosso were the first to get off the blocks and meant business from the first whistle and duly went ahead in the ninth minute through a Dube left-footed bullet that gave goalkeeper Ronald Mudimu no chance.
Dube received a beautiful pass from his outstanding skipper Rahman Kutsanzira, outpaced his marker and let loose a dipping volley on the run to jerk the Barbourfields crowd.
They could have grabbed a second goal in the 16th minute, but Mutuma somehow failed to bury the chance after being set up by Dube.
In the 23rd minute the visitors, who had Russell Madamombe outstanding, launched their own attack that saw Simba Makoni making light work of Peter Muduhwa before getting into the box, but his cross was a huge let down as it went disappointingly out for a goal kick.
Five minutes later, Mutuma shook his head in disbelief after Mudimu went airborne to deny him a goal after he tried to flick the ball over the drawn out keeper off a beautiful pass from Simon Munawa.
To their credit, Triangle United kept their shape, which, however, never caused any major goalmouth action, but Ralph Kawondera must have cursed himself for missing the target when he was found unmarked inside the box only to direct his header wide.
Bosso went 2-0 up from a Mutuma header off a move that was orchestrated by central defender Tendai Ndlovu, who intelligently switched play upon sporting an unmarked Bukhosi Ncube, who then flighted an inviting cross into the box for the tall Mutuma to score his third goal of the season and his first at Barbourfields.
“I feel happy naturally. My job is to score and I am happy if I score,” said Mutuma after the match.
The second half had little goalmouth action except for a 54th minute set piece taken by Madamombe that was tipped over for a corner by goalie Ariel Sibanda. Triangle United had 13 corner kicks compared to Highlanders’ one.
In fact, Highlanders’ corner kick came in the 84th minute after substitute Godfrey Makaruse zigzagged past a number of Triangle United defenders before going for the kill, but his shot was punched out by Mudimu.
“I am very happy today with the three points because if you lose or draw you fall behind the leading pack, so yes I am very happy today,” said Bosso coach Erol Akbay.
This was Highlanders’ only win in their last six outings.
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Bukhosi Ncube, Honest Moyo, Peter Muduhwa, Tendai Ndlovu, Simon Munawa (Yvess Ebabali 72nd min), Tendai Ngulube, Rahman Kutsanzira (King Nadolo 46th min), Allen Gahadzikwa, Prince Dube, Rodreck Mutuma (Godfrey Mutuma 83rd min)
Unused subs: Prosper Matutu, Benson Phiri, Erick Mudzingwa, Nhlanhla Ndlovu
Triangle United: Ronald Mudimu, Ralph Kawondera, Rodwell Mhlanga (Blessing Chimwamuchere 46th min), Kudzai Chigwida, Guthrie Zhokinyu, Tendai Huwa, Brian Juwayeyi (Hardlife Muvindi 70th min), Russell Madamombe, Charles Mukanhari, Simba Makoni, Tarisai Rukanda(Dzingai Chirambamurivo 80th min)
Unused subs: Stephen Alimenda, Misheck Ngwenya, Tapiwa Chilenga, Donald Dzvinyai
Referee: Happy Mabhena
First assistant referee: Wirimai Muroiwa
Second assistant referee: Major Mususa
Fourth official: Cuthbert Zigwadi
Match commissioner: Tabani Mnkantjo
Saturday: Harare City 0 – 1 Chicken Inn, Yadah 2-2 Hwange, Bulawayo City 0-1 How Mine, ZPC Kariba 3-1 Bantu Rovers
Yesterday: Highlanders 2-0 Triangle United, Ngezi Platinum Stars 0-0 Chapungu, Shabanie Mine 1-1 FC Platinum. The Chronicle