By Langton Nyakwenda in BULAWAYO
FC Platinum……………….. ….(2) 2
In a rather poor advertisement for local football, Highlanders fans yesterday showcased their ugly side when they engaged in an ugly battle with security details, forcing a premature end to this otherwise exciting Castle Challenge Cup against FC Platinum.
With FC Platinum leading courtesy of a Silas Songani first-half brace, Bosso fans somehow lost their cool and started assaulting the visitors’ fans housed in the Mpilo-end of Barbourfields Stadium, who were left with no option but seek refuge on the field of play.
However, Bosso fans threw a flurry of missiles onto the pitch as tempers flared after watching their team being outplayed by the reigning champions, who have now won the cup for the past three years.
This means the miners will keep the silverware and the sponsors would have to secure a new cup for subsequent tournaments.
So bad was the situation at Barbourfields that even the progress that has been covered to meet minimum Confederation of African Football (CAF) requirements to host international matches was affected as Bosso fans ran riot, destroying some of the new structures.
After the chaos, the match officials allowed play to continue, but it only lasted for a few minutes.
And the behaviour of Bosso fans was a quick reminder to their new English coach Mark Harrison of the mammoth task he faces ahead of the 2020 Castle Lager Premier League season.
Harrison, however, accepted defeat in his post-match interview.
“I think the game was lost in the first half…the team did not turn up today,” he said.
It was also a platform for the two foreign coaches to exhibit their pre-season work.
For Dutchman De Jongh, it was also a reminder to their rivals that they are not ready to surrender the title they have won for the past three consecutive years.
The contest on the pitch was heated in some instances, Prince Dube proved he is still a force and Perfect Chikwende was a thorn in the Highlanders’ defence.
De Jongh, naturally happy, was proud of his players, whom he lauded for the victory.
“It was a football show from the first whistle. We were aggressive, high pressure and created a lot of chances,” he said.
Aside from the controversy, from the terraces, work being done to refurbish Barbourfields was noticeable.
The stadium now has a strong chance of hosting international assignments for the Warriors.
The postponement of the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers by CAF has also opened a window of hope for Zimbabwe to have its major facilities ready.
There, however, was no doubting from the first whistle that FC Platinum’s participation in the CAF champions League has made them better.
The miners may have failed to win a single match in their group but the experience garnered from the African safari gave them an upper hand over their opponents, who also showed some signs of off-season rust. Bosso were also playing only their first competitive game under Harrison.
It only took the hooligan element in a section of their supporters, who sought to take matters in their own hands, to spoil an otherwise good afternoon for the domestic game. The Sunday Mail