Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
Highlanders 1-1 FC Platinum
HIGHLANDERS produced a dominant performance against champions FC Platinum at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday, but couldn’t convert their dominance into victory and again settled for a second successive 1-1 in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
Bosso were by far the more impressive side and created a flurry of chances that they failed to bury against a side that failed to turn up.
FC Platinum’s performance lacked the desire that saw them winning the title last season and also put up a brave fight in the Caf Champions League.
Perhaps their indifferent performance was due to the fact that they are going through a player crisis following the expiry of several players’ contracts, with some going for trials.
The visitors went ahead in the 39th minute through Cameroonian striker Albert Eonde, who capitalised on a defensive mistake by out of sorts centre-back Tendai Ndlovu. The defender lost possession to Eonde, who made an unchallenged run into the box to fire past outstretched goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
Bosso, however, drew level in the first half stoppage time via a penalty converted coolly by keeper Sibanda. Referee Mhaka Magare pointed to the spot after Devine Mhindirira was hacked down inside the box by Rainsome Pavari.
Bosso coach Mandla ‘Lulu’ Mpofu felt his side had paid dearly for making immature mistakes against an experienced side.
“At this stage we cannot afford to make the mistakes we made in the first half. We cannot make silly mistakes against the defending champions, a very well organised team, and we just give them a goal; it’s unacceptable. They scored one, but I think they could have scored maybe two with the mistakes we made at the back. But these things happen in football so we have to move forward and soldier on. Overall in terms of our tactics we did very well; we wanted to keep possession and we did that. We are not happy with the result today, but we have so many games to play so it’s back to the drawing board and see how we can get those results coming,” said Mpofu.
Despite FC Platinum struggling on the pitch, coach Norman Mapeza said his side had worked hard to get a point away from home.
“I think we worked hard, we were not going for challenges because we do not have the numbers at the moment. First half we did well that is when we created some chances; second half there was nothing to talk about. But credit should go to my boys because they worked hard,” said Mapeza.
Highlanders’ plan to employ a high pressing game from the start reaped early results with FC Platinum defenders being forced into errors that the hosts failed to utilise. Prince Dube almost gave Bosso the lead five minutes into the game, but his header was well blocked by Gift Bello for a corner kick.
Cleopas Kapupurika missed a sitter 25 minutes into game. Having broken loose on the left, the winger made a great run into the box, but took too long to release the ball, giving Bello time to make a timely block.
Dube was left cursing his lucky stars after his ferocious shot from outside the box on the stroke of halftime rattled the cross bar. In the second half, Bosso played with much intent and midfielder Brian Banda made a beautiful solo run in the 53rd minute, but watched as his shot went agonisingly wide.
Bosso continued to lay siege on the champions’ goal, but Francis Tizayi, in goal for the visitors, would not budge as his side held onto a point.
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Charlton Siamalonga, Brian Banda (Adrian Silla 84th min), Cleopas Kapupirika (Tinashe Makanda 84th min), Ray Lunga (Mbekezeli Sibanda 69th min) , Nqobizitha Masuku, Tendai Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Prince Dube, Divine Mhindirira
Francis Tizayi, Gift Mbweti, Gift Bello, Kelvin Madzongwe, Farai Madhananga, Rainsome Pavari (William Stima 69th min) , Never Tigere, Devon Chafa, Rahman Kutsanzira, Charles Sibanda (Perfect Chikwende 37th min), Albert Eonde