By Ricky Zililo
The three weeks’ strike by Highlanders’ players during their pre-season camp returned to haunt them, as they suffered their first Premiership defeat of the season to Harare City on Saturday.
Bosso players ran out of steam against City, giving away their lead to lose the encounter 3-1 at Rufaro Stadium.
Highlanders had taken the lead through a wonderful strike by Prince Dube, before Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye, Walter Mukanga and Tatenda Tumba scored for City.
The Bulawayo side had a brilliant first half where defensive midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku bossed the midfield, with Dube a thorn in the flesh for City defenders. They, however, went on to tire in the second half, failing to keep up with “fit” City players.
City were too fast for Highlanders and even won a penalty after right-back McClive Phiri pulled down Denzel Chimwemwe in the second half. Phiri was shown a red card, but Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda saved Mukanga’s spot kick.
Highlanders’ players only called off their strike two weeks before the season kick-off and the technical team is still working on combinations; something they should have done during the pre-season.
Coach Madinda Ndlovu admitted that their flawed pre-season camp contributed to his team’s defeat to Harare City.
“I should admit that we gave it away very cheaply. The boys didn’t come to the party, we were struggling to string passes, we were struggling to play our normal game,” said Ndlovu.
“I’ll go back to my sentiments and say that in as much as we would have tried and wanted to win today, Harare City were too powerful. It goes back to pre-season preparations. It will always catch up with you if you don’t prepare well. And today was a wake-up call to the boys, to the team. Without a fit team you can’t enjoy the 90 minutes and this was a true testimony to that,” he said.
Highlanders are winless in three games, having played two goalless draws against Black Rhinos in Harare and Caps United at Barbourfields Stadium.
Bosso have demanding games lined up and their next match is a tricky encounter against Triangle United at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday. Triangle yesterday put up a spirited fight, coming from 2-0 to draw 2-2 against Manica Diamonds.
After hosting Triangle, Highlanders will make a road trip to Harare where they’ll face league debutantes Mushowani Stars.
Match Day Three results
Saturday: Black Rhinos v Bulawayo Chiefs (postponed), TelOne 0-1 ZPC Kariba, Harare City 3-1 Highlanders, Chicken Inn 2-0 Dynamos
Yesterday: Caps United v Chapungu (postponed), Hwange 2-1 Ngezi Platinum Stars, Herentals 2-2 Yadah, Triangle United 2-2 Manica Diamonds
Today: Mushowani Stars v FC Platinum (Rufaro) The Chronicle