Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Bulawayo
TWO shots that hit the upright, two monumental blunders by the out-of-sorts referee were the two key talking points in this second match of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter played before a near capacity crowd at Barbourfields yesterday.
Highlanders captain of the day Prince Dube announced his presence in the game on his first official match since returning from South Africa with a 13th minute flashing move when he was sent through by Devine Mindirira but his booming volley on the run hit the upright post with CAPS United goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba well beaten.
Dube was to curse his footballing gods again in the 30th minute when another attempt to score saw the goalpost come into the way.
Highlanders continued dominating possession but that dominance could not be turned into goals.
“I thought Highlanders were in total control of the first half,” CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe alluded in his post-match interview.
When the second half got underway, CAPS United were a changed side as they took the game to their opponents.
It was in one of such raids that the first of the referee’s blunders came when he waived play on after lanky Valentine Ndaba was pushed off the ball by Peter Muduhwa.
Deep into the second half Thabani Bamala, who was the referee, infuriated the Highlanders technical bench when, after Mindirira was brought down right in the centre, he chose to resume play with a drop ball instead of a Bosso free-kick.
Another big moment of the game was two minutes before time when CAPS United’s Dominic Chungwa thought he had given his side the winner after reacting faster to an Ariel Sibanda spill but far side assistant referee Wirimai Muroiwa had long raised his flag for off-side.
Despite going for 180 minutes without a win, Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu was not pressing any panic buttons, arguing that it was still early days.
“It’s still early stages of the season and besides this was not an ordinary game, it was a classic encounter and we witnessed one of the most exciting games. We are satisfied with the performance and the outcome,” said Ndlovu.
Chitembwe, while generally satisfied with the final outcome, was a bit disappointed with their failure to turn their second half dominance into goals and the disallowed “goal”.
“We are taught by the same referees that if a push happens it’s a direct kick and if it’s inside the box, a direct kick is a penalty but on that case it never happened,” said Chitembwe.