Bosso miss Mutizwa, Kangwa
ARE Highlanders’ wheels coming off ?
That is the question people are asking after seeing the Bulawayo giants scoring only a single goal in their last five Castle Lager Premier Soccer League games.
Highlanders, who had previously scored in all their encounters, lost 0-2 to Chicken Inn, drew 0-0 with Mutare City, beat Caps United 1-0, played to a goalless draw with Triangle United and lost 0-1 to Caps United on Sunday.
Dominic Chungwa scored Sunday’s solitary goal that enabled the Green Machine to dislodge Bosso from second place.
Highlanders seem to be suffering from a post-Knox Mutizwa era, and have struggled for goals without their leading goal scorer Bruce Kangwa, who is on trials with Azam in Tanzania.
Mutizwa played his last game for Highlanders on June 26 when they beat ZPC Kariba 1-0 at Barbourfields Stadium before joining his new club Bidvest Wits in the South African Premiership.
By the time he left, Mutizwa had scored four goals and his presence and ability forced opposition defenders to give him close attention, leaving the likes of Kangwa and young striker Prince Dube with acres of space to score.
Highlanders’ coach Erol Akbay’s style of play of soaking pressure and catching opponents on quick counters worked pretty well because of the pace and skill of Dube, Kangwa and Mutizwa.
Maybe it’s time Akbay devises different tactics to unlock the opposition.
Highlanders can’t solely rely on getting their goals from counterattacks. They can’t just sit back without attacking and hope to win.
Against Caps United on Sunday, Bosso’s lack of depth was also exposed as they failed to cope without a few regular starters. Right-back Benson Phiri, leftback Honest Moyo, Dube and Adrian Silla all missed the match through injury and their absence left Bosso terribly exposed.
Akbay tinkered with the team a lot and opted to have defensive midfielder Tendai Ngulube on the right side of defence, reassigned Erick Mudzingwa from the anchorman role he had become accustomed to and deployed him at left-back in a surprise move.
Bosso had two reserve left-backs Bukhosi Ncube, who played in the first leg against Caps United, and Julius Daudi, and playing a natural player in that position could have been a better option for Akbay.
Captain Felix Chindungwe was pushed to defensive link role and later on substituted for Douglas Sibanda.
The introduction of Sibanda and Kasimero Chimbadzwa didn’t inspire Bosso. That veteran Ralph Matema played the entire 90 minutes was testament to the levels of desperation the Bosso technical team faced.
Highlanders are now third with 31 points, five behind leaders FC Platinum who beat Bulawayo City 1-0 on Saturday. Akbay needs to breathe new life into the team to rediscover the form that earned Bosso the title favourites tag leading to the season’s halfway mark.
Highlanders take on Mutare City at Barbourfields Stadium on Thursday and must win to save their campaign that seems to be unravelling.
While Bosso could be ruing the sudden turn of form, FC Platinum marched on, punishing City who failed to translate their dominance into goals.
The ability to grind results in a match that they were second best speaks volumes of FC Platinum’s attitude and that never-say-die spirit will come in handy in their championship quest.
Unlike Bosso, whose only additions during the break were striker Nhlanhla Ndlovu and midfielder Allen Gahadzikwa, FC Platinum beefed up their squad, bringing in top players in the form of striker Charles Sibanda from How Mine and Tsholotsho FC’s utility player William Stima.
Fourth-placed Dynamos played to their third consecutive 0-0 draw against ZPC Kariba, while Triangle United were held to a similar score line by Ngezi Platinum, who took their unbeaten run to six matches. Champions Chicken Inn ended their fourmatch winless streak with a 2-0 win over Harare City.
At the tail end of the table, anchors Border Strikers registered their first draw of the season, holding How Mine 1-1, while Mutare City Rovers drew 0-0 with Chapungu. — @ZililoR
Bruce Kangwa Knox Mutizwa