A YOUTHFUL Highlanders side yesterday staged a sensational comeback in the last 35 minutes of a resumed match to beat a 10-men Chicken Inn at Luveve Stadium and surge through to the final of the ZNA Commander’s Charity Shield.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS… (0) 2
CHICKEN INN… …(1) 1
The final with Dynamos will be played at the weekend after the Harare giants edged Caps United 1-0 at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Chicken Inn were leading Highlanders 1-0 through a Clemence Matawu goal, when the semi-final match at Barbourfields Stadium was abandoned on Sunday due to heavy rains.
The match was moved to Luveve Stadium yesterday, where Adrian Silla equalised for the Bulawayo giants in the 73rd minute with a long-range shot, which deflected off a Chicken Inn defender to beat a diving goalkeeper, Elvis Chipezeze.
It was a pacey 35 minutes, with Highlanders resorting to long balls. They were rewarded with the winner five minutes before the final whistle through overlapping defender, Peter Muduhwa, who pounced on a header by Silla after Chicken Inn defenders had failed to clear a cross by Charlton Siamalonga.
Highlanders coach, Madinda Ndlovu said it was difficult playing an experienced side and they came back rejuvenated with a different strategy yesterday.
“Yesterday, (Sunday) we wanted to play a more open game. When we conceded that early goal the game changed and it was difficult because we were playing a more experienced team, but we knew what we had in store was the mobility and endurance, hence, we wanted to engage into the travelling gear in the second half. Unfortunately, the rains disturbed the game. We had a chance to re-camp and see how we would approach the game today (yesterday). We approached the game with an attacking mentality. We needed to cancel that goal and go for the kill, which is what we did,” he said.
On the prospects of meeting perennial rivals, Dynamos in the final, Ndlovu was cautious.
“It’s a new era. We can’t be reading a the past. What we have to look at now is which Dynamos we are going to play. There is a Dynamos, which has players who were on strike and a Dynamos that played against Caps United. We don’t know which one we are going to play,” he said.
Highlanders right-back, McClive Phiri was a thorn in the flesh for Chicken Inn, whose woes we compounded when they lost Divine Lunga to a red card in the 25th minute on Sunday.
Nigel Makumbe, Thabo Lunga and Godfrey Makaruse missed chances that could have seen Highlanders win by a wider margin. The new faces, who featured for Highlanders included Phiri, Lunga, Ben Musaka, Nigel Makumbe and Ozias Zibande.
Chicken Inn gaffer, Joey Antipas said his boys did not play according to instructions in the restarted match.
“It’s the nature of the game. We were caught napping. I will blame my players for a poor approach to the last 35 minutes. We were down to 10 men, but we did not playing according to instructions. It was mainly to do with attitude. We did well yesterday (Sunday) and they thought the game was over. I must give kudos to Highlanders, they came out guns blazing and we could not keep up with the pace,” he said. Chicken Inn also featured new faces Simon Munawa, Kudzai Chideu, Obriel Chirinda and Adrian Banana.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, M Phiri, H Moyo, C Siamalonga, P Muduhwa, B Musaka, R Lunga (O Zibande 55’), A Silla, T Lunga, N Makumbe, G Makaruse (B Banda 86’)
Chicken Inn: E Chipezeze, P Bernard, D Lunga (red card 25’), K Chideu, M Jackson, C Matawu, S Munawa (T Goredema 46’), I Mucheneka, G Majika, D Nyandoro (O Chirinda 54’), O Tarumbwa (A Banana 88’)