By Ricky Zililo
Pint sized midfielder Ray “Ndorindori” Lunga got Highlanders’ first Castle Lager Premier Soccer League win of the year and their first goal of the season at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
He fired Bosso into the lead in the 18th minute after timing his run to beat an offside trap to collect a clever pass from Prince Dube before coolly slotting the ball home.
Despite playing second fiddle to TelOne, who were more organised, Highlanders scrapped to victory.
Unlike in previous games where Highlanders dominated possession, creating and fluffing scoring chances, yesterday they had a lot more defending to do. Even when TelOne were reduced to 10 men after Frankson Bushiri received a second yellow card in the 75th minute for fouling Lunga, the ailing Bulawayo giants struggled to break the Gweru-based side.
Bosso coach Madinda Ndlovu said: “Today’s football wasn’t better than our previous displays, but luck was on our side. What was important was to collect three points today. TelOne played more meaningful football than us, but were let down by poor finishing. Our game plan was all about pace, stretch them on the wings, with Ray Lunga and Cleopas Kapupurika. I’m just happy that we broke the jinx.”
Kapupurika proved his mettle as he gave TelOne defenders a tough afternoon, as he caused some panic every time he was in possession of the ball.
In the fifth minute, Kapupurika set up Prince Dube, but the striker made too many touches inside the box and was eventually dispossessed.
Kapupurika also sent in a perfect cross to Dube in the 38th minute, but the striker, unmarked inside the box, failed to keep his header on target.
TelOne had themselves to blame for the defeat, as Tafadzwa Sibanda ghosted from the blind side only to head straight into the hands of goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda in the ninth minute.
Emmanuel Mandiranga, who was full of running for TelOne, twice breached the Highlanders’ backline, but took long to release the ball, allowing the defenders to recover.
TelOne’s best player yesterday, veteran midfielder James Jam won almost every tussle and initiated most of their moves.
Jairos Tapera, the TelOne coach, was happy with his team’s performance despite losing the game.
“We played a desperate and dangerous Highlanders, who punished us for the mistake we made. I think we did well and played excellent football. I am sad about the result, but happy with the performance,” said Tapera.
TelOne: Raphael Pitisi, Tawana Chikore, Frankson Bushiri, Marvelous Chigumira, Innocent Zambezi, James Jam, Emmanuel Zinyama, Mcebisi Moyo (Fredrick Muza, 51st minute), Emmanuel Mandiranga, Tafadzwa Sibanda (Mostafa Ponyera, 79th minute), Jacob Muzokomba
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Andrew Mbeba, Mbongeni Ndlovu (Mbekezeli Sibanda, 68th minute), Tendai Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Nqobizitha Masuku, Brian Banda (Takunda Makanda, 77th minute), Ray Lunga (Godfrey Makaruse), Prince Dube, Bukhosi Sibanda, Cleopas Kapupurika
Match Day Nine results
Saturday: Chicken Inn 0-0 Black Rhinos, Herentals 0-0 Chapungu, Yadah 0-1 FC Platinum, ZPC Kariba 1-1 Manica Diamonds
Yesterday: Triangle United 1-1 Bulawayo Chiefs, Mushowani Stars 2-1 Harare City, Hwange 0-3 Caps United, TelOne FC 0-1 Highlanders, Dynamos 0-0 Ngezi Platinum Stars. The Chronicle