Bosso win in Beitbridge thriller
Border Strikers 1-2 Highlanders (Tabwe Kalunga 12 minutes) H’landers 2 (Ralph
Matema 69 min, Nhlanhla Ndlovu 90 min) HIGHLANDERS had to come from behind to collect maximum points following a scare against relegation Border Strikers in a Castle Lager Premiership match at Dulivhadzimu Stadium yesterday.
It was an entertaining game of two halves played before an appreciative near capacity crowd in Beitbridge, with the home team easily controlling the opening stanza, but withering in the second half.
Border Strikers went into the driving seat in the 12th minute when Tabwe Kalunga’s powerful shot inside the box beat Bosso goalkeeper Arial Sibanda to send the crowd wild.
Sibanda had initially failed to deal effectively with an attempt on goal by Clever Mutendebvure and Kalunga punished him.
The border town supporters were clearly on cloud nine and probably envisaging another huge upset following the Premiership debutants’ shock 2-1 win over former champions Dynamos at the same venue at the beginning of last month.
Border Strikers had started the match strongly and Mutendebvure found the back of the net as early as the third minute, but referee Munyaradzi Majoni ruled out his effort for offside.
Bosso were clearly out of sorts, as they were completely outclassed by the minnows, who, however, failed to kill off the game in the first half they dominated.
The visitors tried to build from the back, but their front line found no thoroughfare in the home team’s defence that was marshalled by Micheal Variso.
Bosso showed some improvement in the second half and coach Erol Akbay introduced veteran striker Ralph Matema for defender and captain Felix Chundungwe in the 67th in a desperate move to salvage the match and it worked almost immediately.
Matema drew Bosso level two minutes after coming onto the pitch with a powerful header off a cross by new boy Allen Gahadzikwa.
From then on, the Bulawayo giants turned on the heat, forcing four corners in a space of 10 minutes.
Border Strikers’ coach Never Malunga then got his substitution wrong by introducing Borges Junidly for playmaker Munyaradzi Chirape in the 75th minute, which effectively killed the home side’s rhythm.
While Malunga got his tactics wrong, Akbay brought on midfielder Douglas Sibanda for the tired Tendai Ndlovu and that proved to be the game changer.
Bosso became more forceful in attack and literally camped inside the Border Strikers’ half.
With the hosts thinking they had done enough to secure a point, another Highlanders’ new boy Nhlanhla Ndlovu struck on the stroke of full time, stunning the home crowd into silence.
Some Bosso fans could not contain their joy after the last minute winner and destroyed the perimeter fence near the VIP section as they celebrated the goal, but police swiftly moved in to prevent the ensuing chaos.
Border Strikers now have a mountain to climb in their quest to fight relegation and have to beat fellow strugglers Tsholotsho in their next game away in Bulawayo.
Akbay said his team had lost concentration in the first half, but got it right in the last half.
“We wasted a lot of chances in the first half of the match, but we had to work on that in the second half and we got maximum points. Border Strikers are a very strong team (and) they gave us a run for our money,” said Akbay.
Malunga conceded defeat, saying his charges had lost it in the second half.
“We had the game in the bag, but complacency was our greatest undoing.
‘‘We wasted a lot of chances in the second half. We could have won the match by a wide margin. However, we are not throwing in the towel just yet; we are going to fight until the last whistle to avoid relegation,” said Malunga.
Border Strikers’ secretary-general Rodlet Chigwinya said they had lodged a complaint with the match commissioner over the conduct of Bosso fans that destroyed the fence.