Chapungu Hold Highlanders
PREMIERSHIP returnees Chapungu-United held Highlanders in a nail biting Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter at Ascot Stadium in Gweru yesterday.
It was a game of wasted chances from either side in a match that saw Highlanders welfare manager Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo being sent off for protesting against referee Thomas Masaa's decision to wave play on after striker Gabriel Nyoni appeared to have been brought down inside the penalty box on the stroke of half time.
Milton Ncube played a one-man show for Highlanders with several of his chances either saved by Chapungu goalkeeper Roy Mazingi or his efforts going wide.
Highlanders head coach Kelvin Kaindu, who arrived in the country just a few hours before the match, said he was happy with the team and believed something positive would come out in the next games.
"We are happy that we were creating chances and the flow of the game was encouraging. That we had a number of shots at goal is a positive sign," Kaindu said.
His counterpart John Nyikadzino was ecstatic after getting a point from Highlanders but said his game plan was hinged on Chapungu collecting maximum points.
"Our game plan was to collect maximum points but we missed a lot of chances. I am satisfied with the performance of the boys. Their [Highlanders] aim was to defend and they succeeded in that mission. We are now going back to the drawing board and working on the next match against Black Rhinos," Nyikadzino said.
Chapungu captain Calisto Maheya made a break as early as the second minute on the left but his cross was intercepted by Highlanders goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya.
In the ninth minute Bosso forward Nyoni shrugged off a challenge from Chapungu central defenders Blessed Mbavarira and Johnson Mabugu and packed a shot from close range but Mazingi was equal to the task.
Outstanding Highlanders midfielder Ncube's long range curler in the 14th minute was also punched away by Mazingi, who was kept busy all afternoon.
Ncube was at it again 10 minutes later after he was sent through by Nyoni but blasted the ball over the bar and on the counter-attack, Chapungu's Brighton Mugoni's shot hit the cross-bar with Diya a beaten man.
In the second half Chapungu played a more physical game and played to the advantage of the wind while Highlanders played short passes and it worked for them in the build-ups but the goals were not coming.
Five minutes after the break, Charles Sibanda did well to dispossess defender Collen Kwaramba but shot wide.
A breathtaking moment for Highlanders came in the 62nd minute when Diya made two spectacular saves from Hillary Mugoniwa and Mabugu.
Bosso could have got a goal with nine minutes to full time, but Ncube once again had his shot saved by an alert Mazingi after he was set up by substitute Cleopas "Balotelli" Dube.
Kuda Mahachi and Peter "Rio" Moyo also came in the second half but could not change the complexion of the game.
Chapungu: R Mazingi, J Mabugu, B Mbavarira, C Kwaramba, N Murisa, H Mugoniwa, M Mavuto (G Phiri 87th minute), T Mwale (C Murisa 43rd minute), C Maheya (V Bangira 59th minute), B Mugoni, R Mhlanga
Highlanders: M Diya, S Munawa, B Kangwa, D Ndlovu, I Mapuranga, E Mudzingwa, K Mutizwa, M Maphosa (P Moyo 73rd minute), G Nyoni (C Dube 70th minute), M Ncube, C Sibanda (K Mahachi 56th minute).