HIGHLANDERS . . . . . (0) 1
HARARE CITY . . . . . . (1) 1
BY FORTUNE MBELE
GABRIEL Nyoni converted from the spot six minutes into eight minutes of optional time as Highlanders survived another nightmare at Barbourfields Stadium to settle for a draw against a determined Harare City in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match yesterday.
Highlanders had lost 1-0 to Chapungu and Caps United in their last two matches and another one could have been a disaster for coach Bongani Mafu, who won a huge reprieve on Wednesday when Bosso thrashed Flame Lily 3-0 in Harare.
Harare City had scored in the 27th minute through a header by William Manondo, who exposed poor defending by Bosso as he was left unmarked to easily head the ball past goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda from a Talent Chawapiwa cross.
Highlanders remained rooted at position six with 14 points from nine matches and they meet Chicken Inn in their next match back at Emagumeni on Saturday, giving coach Mafu a bit of breathing space.
With the game headed for the end, Highlanders fans had started chanting the usual anti-Mafu slogans, but that quickly turned into a celebration after assistant referee Edgar Rumeki raised his flag to signal that Harare City midfielder Tendai Samanja had handled inside the box and referee Thomas Masaa pointed to the spot for Nyoni to convert.
Bosso could have equalised in the 64th minute, but goalkeeper Sibanda’s spot-kick was saved by his counterpart Tafadzwa Dube after Benson Maglas had handled inside the penalty box.
Mafu said Bosso was still struggling.
“We are still struggling to get goals. We need goals. But I love the spirit the boys showed, the willingness to win the match. We are just unlucky. To have gotten the equaliser is justifiable,” Mafu said.
Highlanders were found wanting in the middle of the park with no ball winner, leaving Samanja and James Jam to have a field day and exposing their wing-backs where City attacked with Chawapiwa and Tinotenda Kadewere.
Poor substitution compounded the situation with the introduction of Welcome Ndiweni for Obadiah Tarumbwa, who appeared to have a good game and King Nadolo for Simon Munawa, while Rahman Kutsanzira, who was off-form, was kept in.
City were the better side and coach Taurai Mangwiro said they were slowly getting there.
“We have dropped two crucial points under circumstances I wouldn’t want to dwell much on. I want to salute my boys. They (Highlanders) got a lifeline at the death. We could have killed it throughout the match. We are on the right track. One of these days we will come good,” Mangwiro said.
Harare City remain stuck on position seven with 13 points after salvaging a point at Barbourfields.
HIGHLANDERS: A Sibanda, W Chingodza, B Kangwa, E Mudzingwa, F Chindungwe, T Ngulube, O Tarumbwa (W Ndiweni 66′), S Munawa (K Nadolo 72′), T Chideu, N Masuku (G Nyoni 46′), R Kutsanzira
HARARE CITY: T Dube, N Diro, A Chivheya, C Dickson, T Ndlovu, T Samanja, J Jam, B Maglas (F Zekumbawira 70’), W Manondo (R Uchena 79’), T Kadewere (M Vengesayi 87’), T Chawapiwa