AS referee Brighton Chimene blew to end the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at the National Sports Stadium yesterday, Highlanders players trudged off the field shoulders slumped, and faces cramped with frustration.
Their hearts were broken. Their unbeaten start broken and dream buried. They had gone into the match with a proud record of being one of the only two teams without a loss in the Premiership so far this season, with ZPC Kariba being the other team still to taste defeat.
BROTHERS IN ARMS. . .
They were determined to preserve that record which would have seen them inflicting their first league defeat on their old foes since 2006.
But Washington Pakamisa, who has been struggling in front of goal, dashed their hopes — striking home in 34th minute — his first goal of the campaign.
The struggling Dynamos striker found space in a tussle for the ball with Highlanders defender Innocent Mapuranga before beating goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni with a powerful shot to send the Dynamos faithful into a delirium.
CLEANED OUT. . .
Highlanders were missing goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya, defender Milton Ncube and midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo, who have signed for South African clubs.
But not even the presence of star winger Kuda Mahachi, who is also set to leave for South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, could rescue their game.
UNDER SIEGE. . .
Bosso coach Kevin Kaindu threw on goalkeeper Nyoni, sacrificing Aerial Sibanda, but the goalkeeper appeared nervous in his first match and the way he commanded his goal area left the defence exposed on several occasions.
The Bosso defence, one of the best in the current Premiership season having allowed the fewest goals, was time and again being called to clear their lines as the Dynamos attack threatened with dangerous raids.
THE BALL IS MINE. . .
In one of those raids, skipper Mapuranga saved Highlanders with a good clearance in a goalmouth meleé following a well-taken corner kick by Ocean Mushure on 20 minutes.
Dynamos midfielder Stephen Alimenda, also a former Highlanders player, partnered Devon Chafa and the duo showed their superiority in the middle of the park, with Joel Ngodzo and Simon Munawa playing second fiddle.
WHERE IS THE BALL. . .
However, in the second half, Kaindu made some substitutions, pulling off Mahachi, who was by his standards off key, for Valentine Ndaba, with Gabriel Nyoni coming off for Ozias Zibande, while Knox Mtizwa replaced Ngodzo.
Kalisto Pasuwa also made some changes, bringing in Tawanda Muparati after five months on the sidelines for injured Chafa, with Tichaona Mabvura also coming in for Murape Murape and Simba Sithole replacing Anesu Gondo.
But the substitutions appeared to work well for Highlanders as they gained control towards the end, but their attackers could not bury the few chances they created.
Dynamos defended resolutely towards the end with their fans revelling in Highlanders’ moment of anguish.
Gaffer Kaindu was a dejected man after the match.
“It’s painful. It’s not what we expected. It’s painful. We wanted to keep on marching, but we lacked character and conceded that goal,” the Zambian said.
His opposite number Pasuwa was happy to collect maximum points.
“We are happy with the victory. We needed the three points. I am also happy for Pakamisa. He did very well,” Pasuwa said.
With the victory, Dynamos moved to third place with 22 points from 12 matches, while Highlanders dropped to fourth place with 21 points from the same number of matches.
DYNAMOS: A Mukandi, B Moyo, O Mushure, P Jaure, T Ndlovu, S Alimenda, D Chafa (T Muparati 77th min), M Murape (T Mabvura 56th min), W Pakamisa, A Gondo (S Sithole 84th min)
HIGHLANDERS: N Nyoni, S Munawa, B Kangwa, I Mapuranga, D Ndlovu, E Mudzingwa, W Ndiweni, J Ngodzo (Mtizwa 71st min), K Mahachi (V Ndaba 70th min), C Sibanda, G Nyoni (O Zibande 56th min)