Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor
Highlanders 2-0 Chicken Inn
A masterstroke first half substitution by Highlanders coach Hendrik Pieter de Jongh in which he brought in gritty Adrian Silla for Devine Mhindirira saw the Bulawayo giants turn on the power and dispatch erratic championship contenders Chicken Inn at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
After being dormant in the middle of the park where enforcer Nqobizitha Masuku was fighting a lone battle, de Jongh countered that by throwing into the fray Silla who immediately ascertained his presence. The substitution though seemed to be injury inspired but the coach was nevertheless happy with how Silla changed the tactical and technical make up of the match.
“I am very happy for Silla, he came in and really put some force, his physical game was good for us,” said Jongh.
With Bosso now in control of the crucial midfield, it was a matter of time before they registered their first goal which came 20 seconds into the second half. Brian Banda’s thunderbolt rattled the roof of the nets, giving Donovan Bernard, in goal for Chicken Inn, no chance. Pint sized Ray Lunga started the move, spotting Tinashe Makanda inside the box who intelligently laid the ball for running Banda and seconds later, Bosso fans were celebrating as Banda wheeled away to the corner flag to celebrate.
Before the hour mark, Prince Dube made it two after he outpaced his marker having been sent through by McClive Phiri and with Bernard drawn out to narrow the angle, the Zimbabwe international lobbied the ball over the goalkeeper and into an empty net to register his 10th goal in 2019, four in league games, a single strike in a Cup competition and five in national team colours.
“I told him (Dube) to wake up because he was asleep in the first half, he was dreaming but in the second half he was a changed striker. He is a good striker and I told him that,” said the newly appointed Bosso gaffer.
It was however the Gamecocks who nearly stole the lead in the first half but Brett Amidu couldn’t capitalise on a defensive mix up by the Highlanders backline to allow Ariel Sibanda a clean catch.
A dejected Joey Antipas conceded defeat and said Highlanders were the hungrier of the two sides.
“We were flat throughout the game, we had better ball possession but didn’t create any meaningful chances. Our wing play was poor and in the second half Bosso came all fired up and they deserved to win. They had the desire to win and its well done to them,” said Antipas. Referee Prince Mathumo made some unpopular but correct decisions especially on some crude tackles from both sides.
The Bulawayo giants have now gone for five games without a loss, scoring six goals while conceding one.
Meanwhile, Dynamos coach, Tonderai Ndiraya, was again left frustrated yesterday after his side failed to make good use of their numerical advantage in a drawn Premiership match against 10-men Yadah at Rufaro.
Veteran forward Ralph Matema pushed Yadah ahead with a free header, five minutes into the game, but Tawanda Macheke levelled matters soon after the restart.
Yadah played most of the match one man down following the expulsion of Willard Kalongonda just before the break.
But DeMbare failed to move into the next gear against the basement side before settling for their 11th draw of the season.
“It was a very difficult match for us and I think we are losing concentration at the critical moments of the game,’’ said Ndiraya.
“On Sunday (against Highlanders) we conceded quite early in the game.
“I think by the 10th minute we had conceded and then today by the fifth minute we were a goal down.
“Once you are chasing the game and you are playing a team like Yadah, with a lot of experienced players, it becomes difficult.
“I thought we didn’t use the numerical advantage quite well.
“Once the game is in that mode then you need some creative players, you need players who can move the ball around, clever players who can pass intelligent balls for you to penetrate such a well organised defence like Yadah.
“We didn’t have that and that’s the reason why we had to settle for a point. But credit to Yadah. They fought very hard. We have to look up to the game on Sunday.
“Today it was two points dropped if you ask me.’’
Yadah raced into an early lead after Matema found himself alone in the box and buried a fine header from a good cross by Godknows Mangani.
But the game changed its complexion when Kalongonda was sent for an early shower in a two-minute moment of madness in which the defender picked up two yellows cards.
Macheke equalised after a goal mouth melee.
Earlier, the teams had taken a huge risk when they played almost the whole of the first half without the ambulance personnel on the pitch.
Yadah coach, Genesis Mangombe, felt his side deserved maximum points.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult game but pound-for-pound I thought we were far much better than our opponents,’’ he said.
“But it was not one of the best games for the match officials.
“They were a bit one-sided, in my own opinion.’’
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, McClive Phiri, Brian Banda, Ray Lunga (Cleopas Kapupurika 70th min), Nqobizitha Masuku, Andrew Mbeba, Peter Muduhwa, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Tinashe Makanda, Prince Dube (Peter Nyirenda 87th min), Devine Mindirira (Adrian Silla 36th min)
Subs: Charlton Siamalonga, Cleopas Kapupurika, Peter Nyirenda, Tendai Ndlovu, Bukhosi Sibanda, Wellington Muuya
Bernard Donovan, Passmore Bernard, Guide Goddard, Xolani Ndlovu, Tichaona Chipunza, Liberty Chakoroma, Innocent Mucheneka, Tapiwanashe Kadonzo (George Majika 62nd min), Clemence Matawu, Malvin Gaki (Sipho Ndlovu 55th min) Bret Amidu (Nicole Mutatiwa 75th min)
Subs: Pride Zendera, Ben Nyaunzwi, Joe Nyabinde, Simon Munawa
Referee: Prince Mathumo
assistant: Faith Mloyi