Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Bulawayo
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chicken Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
(Highlanders won 4,2 after penalties)
A strong performance by goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda enabled Highlanders to progress to the semi-finals of the ZNA Charities Shield after beating a tactically superior Chicken Inn during a penalty shoot-out at Barbourfields yesterday. Sibanda was the hero of the spot kicks after saving from Guide Goddard and Physwell Madhazi, while Highlanders banged in all their four penalties.
Bosso, who struggled in the first half of regulation time, scored their spot kicks through Bruce Kangwa, Knox Mutizwa, Rahman Kutsanzira and Eric Mudzingwa. Kangwa had brought Bosso back into the game with a 74th minute right-footed volley from inside the box after intercepting a goal-bound Tendai Ngulube effort. The goal cancelled a 45th minute Obidiah Tarumbwa opener, which he scored after dispossessing an otherwise impressive Felix Chindungwe.
Tarumbwa, who donned the Highlanders’ jersey last season, did not celebrate his goal, but just picked the ball from the back of the net and took it to the centre. Coach Erol Akbay, while happy with the win, felt his boys did not come to the party in the first half.
“There was a zeal to win in the second half than the first and I think we need to work on that. The team is not yet ready, but it’s promising,” he said after the game. To the surprise of many, the Dutchman fielded a team of veterans in his trusted 3-4-3 formation, relegating promising youngsters. When asked about the rationale behind the move, he said the young players still had to go through a learning phase.
“We can’t have the youngsters in the starting line up for such a game, they still need to understand and adapt to our playing style, but they will come through,” said Akbay. Bosso take on their old nemesis Dynamos in the first leg of the Bob 92 ZIFA Cup final at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Chicken Inn, whose head coach Joey Antipas was absent due to an eye infection, missed the services of Lawrence Mhlanga in central defence that saw assistant coach Prince Matore fielding Goddard and Ben Nyahunzvi.
Moses Jackson, who usually partners Mhlanga, was deployed to the right with the impressive Devine Lunga taking care of business on the left side of defence. Skipper Danny Phiri was rested, but his replacement Thabani Goredema fitted well in the holding midfield position.
Jackson rued missed scoring opportunities which led to Highlanders fighting back to knock them out of the tournament. “I think we paid dearly for missing our chances because we created more real scoring opportunities than Highlanders, but they got one and punished us. Otherwise we should have won the game in 90 minutes. Then again penalties are a lottery, the lucky team sails through,” said Jackson.
About missing players, Jackson praised the team that faced Bosso and said everyone in the squad deserves to play. He said yesterday’s display proved that they have a strong squad as the replacements stood the heat.