BOSSO STILL IN IT
Highlanders 2-1 Ngezi Platinum Stars A 90th minute penalty kept Highlanders’ title hopes alive as they performed an audacious smash-andgrab against a plucky Ngezi Platinum Stars in a dull Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
The match could have been the last for Bosso goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda this season after he was pulled out in the 80th minute with a swollen eye.
“I was hit by the ball as I went for a save and the doctors said my eye was full of blood, I will know my fate tomorrow,” said Sibanda, who was replaced by Njabulo Nyoni.
Referee Pilan Ncube, a teacher at Luveve High School in Bulawayo, bravely awarded Bosso the spot kick after defender Talent Chamboko pulled super sub Ralph Matema’s shorts as the veteran striker attempted a diving header.
Skipper Erick Mudzingwa buried the resultant spot kick with a rising shot into the top right corner of the net, sending Ngezi Platinum keeper Chris Mverechena the wrong way.
The penalty was only taken after a five-minute stoppage as Ngezi Platinum players protested the decision by the referee. However, television replays proved that Ncube was spot on, as Chamboko could be seen clearly pulling the veteran striker’s shorts as he went for a cross that was punched away by Mverechena.
“I am hugely disappointed by the decision of the referee. We surely did not deserve to lose in this way. That was not a penalty at all, there was no contact. Look, Highlanders are a great side, they are in the championship race and no one must assist them win games; they can do it without any assistance,” said Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderayi Ndiraya after the match.
The visitors had surged ahead in the 66th minute after Bosso failed to clear a Tatenda Mchisa corner kick that nestled into the left side of the net.
Ngezi Platinum almost drew first blood as early as the fourth minute, but alert defender Tendai Ndlovu cleared a James Nguluve effort off the line after keeper Sibanda had been beaten by the bounce of the ball outside his box.
The speedy Nguluve, who was a menace until his substitution, headed the ball over the drawn out Sibanda and quickly shot at goal before tearing away to celebrate, but Ndlovu was on hand to clear off the line.
After that, the fans were treated to some boring football with no goalmouth action. In the 26th minute, Tendai Ngulube miscued a Prince Dube pass with Mverechena at his mercy, and six minutes later, Allen Gahadzikwa headed wide from a good cross by Rahman Kutsanzira.
Bosso were finding it hard to penetrate the water tight visitors’ defence, which was well marshalled by Partson Jaure.
The first half ended with Highlanders registering no shot on target. In the second minute of the second half, Sibanda made a brilliant save when he went airborne to tip over a lob by Chamboko.
Highlanders made their first substitution in the 65th minute, pulling out youngster Nhlanhla Ndlovu for Matema. Two minutes after that, Kutsanzira registered Bosso’s first shot on target, forcing an excellent save from Mverechena, who acrobatically tipped it over, with some fans already celebrating.
The goal did come in the 74th minute and what a gem it was.
Simon Munawa started the move from the middle of the park by releasing substitute Gabriel Nyoni on the far right. The speedy Nyoni beat one man and got into the box under the challenge of Chamboko, who did not commit himself as he feared a penalty.
Munawa made a run and was spotted by Nyoni just outside the box. Munawa let loose a rising shot that Mverechena never saw and Bosso were back on level terms.
By that time, Bosso had adopted a 3-4-3 formation in a bid to open up the compact Ngezi Platinum defence.
“We read their move and quickly adjusted our system too by having two holding midfielders,” said Ndiraya.
The visitors seemed content with a point, as they deployed more men at the back. Highlanders made one last surge towards goal at the death which resulted in the incident that saw Chamboko pulling Matema’s shorts and referee Ncube pointing to the spot without any hesitation.
Mudzingwa sent Mverechena the wrong way and Barbourfields Stadium erupted into song and dance, as the Bosso faithfuls continue to believe that something good is going to happen to them this season.
“We conceded a stupid goal from a corner which we should have avoided. I am happy with the win regardless of how we got it,” said a happy Bosso coach Erol Akbay. — @skhumoyo2000
Ngezi Platinum’s goal minder Chris Mverechena sent the wrong way by Highlanders captain Erick Mudzingwa from the spot. (Picture by Obey Sibanda)