AN 89th minute goal by Black Mambas defender Paul Mazaranye put a huge dent on Highlanders’ league title ambitions as the Bulawayo giants agonisingly fell to the battling police side at Morris Depot yesterday.
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA
Black Mambas . . . . . . (0) 1
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . 0
The tall central defender popped up inside the Highlanders box to fire home after the visitors had failed to clear a free-kick.
With the defeat, Highlanders failed to close the four-point gap on log leaders Harare City who drew their match against Tripple B on Wednesday.
Equally damaging is that Bosso allowed Dynamos to sneak ahead of them on the log standings after the champions beat Motor Action yesterday.
Mambas moved one place up to 10th position with 25 points.
Listen to Mambas assistant coach Martin Bonongwe below:
Highlanders’ new signing Master Masitara was handed his debut, and so was Evans Gwekwerere for Mambas, the later as a second half substitute, but the players’ contributions were minimal.
There was no attacking options from both sides in the opening minutes as action was restricted to the middle of the park.
The first shot on target arrived after 24 minutes when Milton Ncube’s dipping free-kick was pushed over the bar by Mambas goalie Tonderai Mateyaunga.
And three minutes later, Mambas had their first real chance of the game this far, but new signing Joseph Mutambiranwa directed an inviting cross wide.
Highlanders nearly took the lead just moments later when Mateyaunga failed to deal with a cross inside his box, but the ball caught Simon Munawa flat footed and the midfielder’s fluffed effort kissed the foot of the upright and rolled out.
Listen Bosso fans after-match comments below:
Bosso wasted another golden opportunity on 37 minutes when they were awarded a freekick just outside the box, and once again
Ncube took responsibility, but this time the wall took the pounding.
Listen to Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu after-match comments below:
There was an anxious moment for the Bosso followers on 53rd when goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya came out of his line for a routine clearance, but he cleared tamely and the ball landed on Mutambiranwa whose attempted long range shot went wide of an open goal with the goalie scrambling to get back into position.
There were genuine calls for a penalty from Highlanders two minutes later when Peter Moyo’s intended cross hit Mazaranye’s hand, but the referee waved play on.
The troublesome Mutambiranwa got a clear sight on goal on the hour mark, but Diya somehow managed to block the striker’s effort using his legs.
Substitute Beaven Chikaka’s header was well saved on 71st minute and the same striker would direct another headed effort horribly wide a minute later as Highlanders, for the first time in this match, took total control of proceedings. With the match slacking towards the end, Mambas got a free kick in the final third.
The ball was swung into the box and a tame clearance bounced invitingly in front of Mazaranye who took it well to torch wild celebrations in the stadium.
Black Mambas: T Mateyaunga, P Muswere, T Chinungo, I Nyoni, B Nyahunzvi, C Hungwe, T Ranthokoane, J Mutambiranwa, H Chimutimunzeve (E Gwekwerere, 77th min), P Mazaranye, F Banda (L Chibwiro, 56th min)
Highlanders: M Diya, B Kangwa, I Mapuranga, H Masuku (M Mambare, 51st min), P Moyo, S Munawa (M Maphosa, 66th min) M Ncube, D Ndlovu, B Tshuma, E Mudzingwa, M Masitara (B Chikaka, 60th min).