BOSSO, STUDENTS IN THRILLER THE BALL IS MINE . . . Highlanders’ Peter Mudhuwa (right) has the ball under cover despite the challenge of Herentals’ Godfrey Mukambi during yesterday’s match at Rufaro. — Picture by Chex Images.

Tadious Manyepo-Sports Reporter

Herentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 2

Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  (2) 2

PREMIERSHIP log leaders Highlanders threw away a two-goal first-half advantage and even survived a scare in this captivating Castle Lager Premier Soccer League stalemate at Rufaro yesterday. 

The Bulawayo giants, though retained a slender lead at the top, thanks to Simba Bhora and FC Platinum’s failure to pick the maximum points in their own games. 

Bosso were playing at the ceremonial home of football for the first time in five years and they looked like they would overrun the Students, especially after getting early goals from Brighton Ncube and debutant Mvelo Khoza in the opening phase. It was a half they would even look back at and feel they should have scored more than just two goals. Herentals though did rally back in the second half, thanks to coach Paul Benza’s half-time masterstroke triple substitution that completely tilted the game in the Harare club’s favour. 

Quick-fire goals by Tafadzwa Jim and Godfrey Mukambi in that second period ensured a share of the points. This was a match that produced literally everything and can easily pass as the best game seen so far this term.

The goals, the flow, the neat tackles, the saves, the dribbles. Everything. 

“It was a good game of football,’’ was how Benza summed it up. 

“I am happy and disappointed. We conceded very easy goals. That’s very disappointing, to say the least. 

“But then you look at how we managed to fight back. That was top-of-the-shelf stuff. We could have even won this match had we utilised the chances that came our way. 

“At half-time, we talked about the possibilities which were there. We were losing the game and we risked falling further down. 

“We talked about it and introduced Tafadzwa Jim, Dreamer Liyeto, and Stanley Murove. It paid dividends. “But we need to move away from where we are as we are still 17th on the log.’’ 

Bosso coach Kelvin Kaindu was a dejected man. “We couldn’t defend well and I feel we could have avoided those two goals,’’ he said. 

“It was a game of two halves but we should have fully utilised our chances. 

“But football is always like that. We take the point and look ahead.’’ Herentals got the first chance to break the ice but Milton Chimedza’s rather weak effort from outside the box was smothered by Bosso skipper and goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda with Tanaka Dhlakama failing to prod the rebound home 15 minutes into the game. The Students were made to pay three minutes later as Ncube slalomed his way past their defence and beat the badly exposed Herentals goalkeeper Takudzwa Chikosi. 

Herentals almost got an equaliser with half an hour on the clock but Dhlakama’s close-range header was acrobatically saved by Sibanda. Then Khoza appeared to have buried the game with a deflected shot beating Chikosi five minutes before the break. 

Herentals came from the break a revitalised lot and instantly took the game to their opponents. With the hosts piling the pressure they got a corner which Tino Benza, who was celebrating his 100th cap for the Students curled it and Jim headed home their opener with 57 minutes on the clock. And 10 minutes later, Mukambi sliced his way past the Bosso rearguard and hammered home the equaliser.

There were opportunities for both teams to score more but in the end it was all square.

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