Highlanders lose ground

Harare City… (1) 1
Highlanders. . . 0

BY MICHAEL MADYIRA

An incoherent Highlanders dropped three crucial points and slid a rung down the Premier Soccer League standings after falling to Harare City at Rufaro yesterday.

Francisco Zekumbawire punished a jittery Bosso defence with a first half goal as the visitors allowed leaders Dynamos to extend the gap above them to four points while they were also dislodged from second spot by ZPC Kariba.

Bosso were simply pathetic all afternoon, giving the clearest sign that they are not championship material.

Kelvin Kaindu’s men lacked confidence and zeal, appearing as though they had been forced to travel to Harare for the match.
“I think we lacked passion a bit,” said Kaindu.

“I know the team when they want to win and today we lacked that zeal. The character was not there at all. All we need is to believe and pick ourselves up in the remaining games. Dropping points at this stage of the season will always make things difficult for us.”

City were also to blame for the slim win after fluffing numerous chances on a day they partied around the Highlanders defence.
But gaining three points however, pushed them up one place to eighth spot which has become coach Masimba Dinyero’s target.

“My boys played very well although they missed some good chances. But they showed that they can play any team in this country and come out with a good result. The fighting spirit in the team carried the day for us. Everyone was putting maximum effort and we won every battle in the midfield. Now a top-eight finish is realistic for us,” said Dinyero.

The script was written from the first whistle that the afternoon belonged to City.

With Welcome Ndiweni operating as a right wing back, Kaindu had lost the plot as the natural midfielder became a victim of numerous raids by Osborne Mukuradare and William Manondo, thereby exposing the centre backs who now had an extra duty to cover up for him.

Martin Vengesai broke loose nine minutes into the game but was blocked by goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda who was arguably Highlanders’ outstanding man.

Highlanders never launched any meaningful attack throughout the first half with Mukuradare and James Jam coming close to beat Sibanda.

The deciding moment of the afternoon came on 28 minutes when Zekumbawire was released by Mukuradare and volleyed past Sibanda.

A well-positioned Zekumbawire could have claimed a double but failed to control a Manondo feed inside the box before being thwarted by Sibanda.

An under-pressure Erick Mudzingwa nearly beat his goalkeeper Sibanda during one of the City forays just before the break.
The complexion of the game remained the same after the restart as City kept on probing with Vengesai just shooting wide while Mukuradare also closely missed target with a low shot with Sibanda already beaten.

Highlanders’ first meaningful attempt at goal came four minutes after the hour mark when Charles Sibanda’s shot was saved by City goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu.

Manondo had Mukuradare kept the Bosso goalkeeper on his toes with close efforts as the visitors appeared to have gone to sleep instead of pushing for a comeback.

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