HomeSportHighlanders sneak through

Highlanders sneak through

HIGHLANDERS . . . . . . (1) 1
FC PLATINUM . . . . . . . .(1) 1
Highlanders win 3-1 in a penalty shootout
HIGHLANDERS beat FC Platinum in a penalty shootout at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday to set-up a Bulawayo derby in the Independence Cup final to be played at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.

BY FORTUNE MBELE

Goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda was the hero of the day for the Bulawayo giants after saving Simon Shoko and Raphael Muduviwa’s spot-kicks in the penalty lottery, while Brian Muzondiwa watched in disbelief as his penalty sailed over the bar.

Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda is tossed in the air by his teamates after saving two penalties during the Independence Trophy semi-final yesterday
Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda is tossed in the air by his teamates after saving two penalties during the Independence Trophy semi-final yesterday

Highlanders’ Bruce Kangwa, Knox Mutizwa, Simon Munawa all converted their spot kicks while FC Platinum got theirs through Rodwell Chinyengetere.

FC Platinum had earlier opened the scoring in regulation time through Ismael Wadi, who beat Highlanders left-back Honest Moyo before pushing the ball into the penalty box and poking it past Sibanda in the 13th minute.

The Bulawayo giants, who had been stunned by FC Platinum’s opener, replied 11 minutes later through a brilliant far post header by right-back Benson Phiri, after coming to the end of a Mutizwa corner-kick.

FC Platinum finished the game with 10 men as substitute Marshall Mudehwe lasted barely 15 minutes after coming in for injured Wadi in the 64th minute.

Mudewe stomped on Moyo in an off-the-ball incident which was spotted by an alert first assistant referee Bryton Nyika before centre-man Nduna Nkosana flashed the red card.

Highlanders’ coach Erol Akbay was happy with the win, but bemoaned several missed chances.

“It was not an easy game. Both sides played very well, but I am disappointed because of the several chances that we missed. I am happy for the win and also happy for Ariel [Sibanda]. He was my man of the match,” Akbay said.

Highlanders could have gone into the lead as early as the ninth minute, but Mutizwa’s weak effort was saved by goalkeeper Francis Tizayi after he was set up by Rahman Kutsanzira inside the penalty box.

Kangwa was brought down just outside the box in the 19th minute and Tizayi made another brilliant save from a Mutizwa strike off a free-kick.

The Highlanders attacking midfielder was in the thick of things again in the 37th minute, with a diving header under challenge from defender Last Sithole and missed the left upright by a few centimeters.

After the break, FC Platinum, who were more disciplined — playing their usual passing game — came back a rejuvenated side and Raymond Sibanda’s long-range shot was saved by Ariel in the 52nd minute.

FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza, who fielded a totally different team from the one that beat Highlanders 2-1 in a league match last Sunday, was impressed with his boys.
“We played brilliant football. It is unfortunate that one of our players got sent off. Otherwise it was a fantastic performance,” Mapeza said.

TEAMS
Highlanders: A Sibanda, B Phiri, H Moyo (T Ngulube 89’), T Ndlovu, F Chindungwe, S Munawa, P Dube (D Chakwana 59’), K Nadolo, K Mutizwa, B Kangwa, R Kutsanzira (A Silla 68’)
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, S Shoko, L Sithole, R Sibanda, R Muduviwa, G Takwara, W Kamudyariwa, R Chinyengetere, I Wadi (M Mudehwe 64’-red card 76’), B Muzondiwa, T Rukanda

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