Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
Highlanders 1-0 Manica Diamonds
PRINCE Dube continued with his fine form for Highlanders, scoring a beauty that deservedly won Bosso maximum points against a stubborn Manica Diamonds in a Castle Lager Premiership match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Dube showed class when he received the ball on the left side, about four metres outside the box, looked up and spotted Manica Diamonds’ goalkeeper Jorum Muchambo off his line, before beautifully curling the ball to the left of the goalie into the net.
That goal was enough to win Highlanders the match and stretch their unbeaten run in the league to 12 games.
Bosso celebrated the victory that they needed as they head into the Chibuku Super Cup final against Ngezi Platinum Stars.
The Bulawayo giants’ performance against Manica Diamonds was however subdued as the Mutare-based club enjoyed superior dominance especially in the second half.
“This was a difficult game where the opponent had lots of ball possession and were dangerous on the second ball. They were also very physical, but we also created good chances in the first half and even hit the post. I’m happy with the three points. We knew what we wanted and today we will celebrate the victory, tomorrow we will focus on the final,” said Highlanders’ coach Hendrik Pieter de Jongh.
Had they been clinical, Manica Diamonds could have at least salvaged a draw, with striker Stanley Ngala’s flashing header off a Pritchard Mphelele cross in the fourth minute going wide.
Two minutes later, an unmarked Highlanders’ striker Tinashe Makanda fluffed a good scoring opportunity, heading straight at Muchambo from a Ray Lunga cross.
Then came Dube’s spectacular that left the fans in awe.
Highlanders were attacking, threading passes and no one thought Dube would strike as Manica Diamonds had set a “wall”, closing possible gaps that Bosso could penetrate through. The Highlanders’ striker struck the ball with aplomb.
Pint-sized Highlanders’ midfielder Lunga almost caught Muchambo napping with his long range left foot curler that the goalie tipped onto the crossbar for corner in the 19th minute.
National team defender Partson Jaure’s long range stinger in the 32nd minute hit the upright, with Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda cleanly beaten.
Highlanders regained possession and threatened their opponents with Brian Banda going for power shooting straight to Muchambo instead of picking a spot to place the ball after being set through by Tinashe Makanda.
The second half clearly belonged to Manica Diamonds but they failed to turn their dominance into goals.
Manica Diamonds rarely troubled Sibanda who kept his 16th clean league sheet of the season to equal last season’s record.
“Poor defending from the wingbacks contributed to our loss but after that we were on top of the situation. I think we missed chances that we were supposed to convert,” said Manica Diamonds coach Johanis Nhumwa.
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, McClive Phiri, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Andrew Mbeba, Peter Muduhwa, Nqobizitha Masuku, Ray Lunga (Mbekezeli Sibanda, 84th min), Brian Banda, Denzel Khumalo (Divine Mhindirira, 70th min), Tinashe Makanda, Prince Dube
Manica Diamonds: Jorum Muchambo, Partson Jaure (Peace Makaha, 88th min), Pritchard Mphelele, Lawrence Masibhera, Carlton Munzabwa, Rodrick Mufudza, Timire Mamvura, Benjamin Marere (Emmanuel Chingondi, 61st min), Last Jesi, Stanley Ngala, Kudakwashe Gurure (Ishmael Lawe, 61st min). — @ZililoR.