Caps United . . . . .(2) 2
Harare City . . . . .(1) 2
WHAT was supposed to be a crowning moment for Harare City turned into a nightmare as the Sunshine Boys wasted a glorious chance to seal their maiden Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title after being held to a 2-2 draw by party spoilers Caps United to complete a sad end to their campaign at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
DANIEL NHAKANISO,SPORTS REPORTER
Yesterday’s stalemate meant City had to settle for a tie for third-place on the log standings because of an inferior goal difference after they finished tied on 54 points with their nearest rivals Dynamos and Highlanders.
Dynamos’ 2-0 win against Black Mambas at Rufaro ensured saw them seal their third straight title while Highlanders also missed out despite winning 3-1 against Shabanie Mine at Barbourfields. Harare City, who went into yesterday’s match two points clear of close rivals Dynamos and Highlanders, needed an outright win over Caps United to collect their maiden championship.
City, who were missing the services of the suspended duo of Silas Songani and Crispen Dickson looked a totally different side without their two star players and a pale shadow from the team that destroyed Highlanders 4-0 last weekend. Their inexperience at the top level was severely exposed as they failed to collect all three points despite initially dominating the match which was played under overcast conditions. Bigboy Mawiwi’s men took the lead in the 16th minute courtesy of a close range finish from William Manondo.
The lead, however, proved short-lived as they conceded an equaliser immediately afterwards as Caps United striker Dominic Chungwa headed home a cross from his strike partner Tawanda Nyamandwe a hardly minute later.
Harare City players were guilty of ball watching as they took too long to regroup after celebrating the opening goal and were duly punished. The equaliser momentarily shifted the momentum in Caps United’s favour as they began to dominate the match with roving left back Ronald Pfumbidzai denied by a brilliant point blank save from Maxwell Nyamupangedengu in the 24th minute. Pfumbidzai had found himself face to face with the goalie after a one-two move with Moses Muchenje but shot straight at Nyamupangedengu.
The talented defender would, however, turn provider a minute later after his corner was nodded into the back of the net by Nyamandwe after Nyamupangedengu had failed to cut off the cross. The Caps goal left City with their backs firmly against the wall as they headed for the breather trailing while also fully aware that both their rivals Dynamos and Highlanders were leading in their respective matches.
After controlling proceedings early in the second-half Harare City were rewarded when Manondo completed his brace in the 57th minute after directing the ball into the nets with his chest after a fine cross from the industrious Martin Vengesayi. City tried to go all the way for the winner but Caps United produced a display of resilience to thwart their opponents.
Harare City coach Bigboy Mawiwi blamed his team’s inexperience for failing to take full advantage of their two point lead going into the match. “Obviously it’s disappointing to missing out but that’s football. I was telling these youngsters during the week that they were not under pressure at all. They had to be composed and play their normal game, which we didn’t do especially in the first half. We made several mistakes especially the marking on our right wing back and it cost us and we conceded those soft goals.
“I’m, however, happy for the job well done from the youngsters because it’s a marathon and it’s only our second season, but they have done very well. I know the areas that we need to beef up and I’m going to do that. The championship is won by men and we are still learning we will regroup and work on those areas.
Mawiwi’s counterpart Taurai Mangwiro, who said he wasn’t aware that Dynamos had won the championship because of the 2-all draw after the final whistle said happy with the professional manner his players conducted themselves yesterday.
“I’m actually surprised to hear about it now, throughout the match I didn’t manage to get the results from the other centres but for us we had said we wanted to win the match for ourselves so that we cement a possible top four finish unfortunately we could manage to defend the halftime lead we had but at the end of it all we gave it a fight and I must salute the players for a fairly decent season which could have been better but at the end we have to be contend with what we achieved.
Harare City: M Nyamupangedengu, M Nyenye, T Chiworeso (G Nguwodzawo, 56), W Nyamutsaka, D Kutyauripo, J James, W Manondo, N Ziwini, M Vengesayi (O Mukuradare, 80), C Muvuti (R Machena, 74), T Chawapihwa
Caps United: T Dube, B Zabula, R Pfumbidzai (M Chinembiri, 81), D Mukandi, S Makatuka, G Phiri (David Rediyoni, 67), M Muchenje, B Maglasi (T Gonzo, 73), D Muchenje, D Chungwa, H Zvirekwi, T Nyamandwe