ZPC Kariba… (2) 2
Highlanders . . . 0
BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
ZPC Kariba yesterday issued the strongest hint that they could again this season be serious Premier Soccer League (PSL) title contenders after overpowering Highlanders 2-0 at Gwanzura.
Continuing from where they left off from last term where they missed the crown on the last day of the campaign, returning midfielder Raphael Manuvire converted from the penalty spot and Artwell Nyamiwa struck two minutes before halftime.
Making ZPC Kariba convincing on what they could offer this year is that last season they started the title chase against another giant CAPS United and avoided defeat at the same venue.
Highlanders have been condemned to a second straight season without recording victory on the opening day and yesterday’s defeat extended ZPC Kariba’s supremacy on them.
On a day where the hosts were impressive in the way they executed themselves, coach Saul Chaminuka proved his tactical acumen but still remains diplomatic just like last term, on his title intentions.
“I want to say yes, this win is a good omen for our season but we want to focus on surviving relegation first and then see how it goes,” said Chaminuka.
“It is still early to say anything about the league title. I did not expect us to play the way we did today since it was the second time this year to face a PSL team. The only other stronger opponent was Flame Lily during pre-season while all other games were against Division One teams. I thought this was going to give us problems when we start the league. Considering that, we did well today and I hope we will be better in our second game. We just need to settle.”
Chaminuka’s side gave Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu a rude awakening in his new job.
After Bosso’s promising and dominant display in the opening moments of the game, Mafu was to be later tactically outclassed by Chaminuka.
The Highlanders gaffer blamed the result on the penalty, saying it “disturbed” his players.
Douglas Sibanda tripped Russel Madamombe just inside the box to win ZPC Kariba the penalty.
“We played well in the first few minutes but we were not prepared for the psychological knockdown. When they were awarded the penalty I think it disturbed us a little bit. We failed to be calm after that,” Mafu said.
“The second goal we failed to cover and thought it was an offside. We should learn to do things for ourselves. Tactics go out of the window when you are 1-0 down. But there are 29 more games to come so we do not have to read much into this defeat. We just have to go back and work hard again for next games.”
Bosso began the afternoon brilliantly with forward Thomas Chideu threatening to ravage the ZPC Kariba defence with intelligent flicks and feints which however came to naught.
He almost found target 10 minutes into the contest but his shot was blocked by Dennis Dauda.
Five minutes later, Douglas Sibanda’s powerful low freekick was repelled by the hosts’ goalkeeper Wilson Muchenje.
It was only in the 18th minute that ZPC attempted at goal for the first time with Dexter Phiri closely missing target, before the moment that changed the game arrived six minutes later as Manuvire coolly slotted in from the spot.
Highlanders almost immediately clawed back when Muchenje was fooled by an Honest Moyo cross, but Obadiah Tarumbwa failed to connect into an empty net.
Nyamiwa sealed matters just before the break, finishing a chip by Phiri after breaking off from a Bosso defence which anticipated an offiside call from the referee.
Bruce Kangwa’s long drive went just over bar as he attempted to beat the halftime whistle.
Bosso still had good chances though with Erick Mudzingwa’s grounder desperately saved by Muchenje on the hour mark and a few minutes later Chideu failed to executive an acrobatic kick.
ZPC Kariba substitute Tsepo Ranthokoane almost scripted the result as a routing in injury time but his shot hit the cross bar.