BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
DYNAMOS players sunk to their knees at the final whistle after they once again failed to beat Highlanders in a competitive match, something that they have struggled to do since 2015.
The Harare giants’ last victory over their old foes two years ago was clouded in controversy as it needed a boardroom decision after the match had been abandoned at Barbourfields Stadium following a disputed goal by Cameroonian striker Christian Ntouba Epoupa.
Having struggled to win in their last eight matches which have all ended in draws, Dynamos badly needed a victory at Rufaro Stadium yesterday, more so before their home fans.
However, they found themselves trailing behind courtesy of a strike by Tinashe Mukanda in the 71st minute in an ill-tempered match characterised by intermittent stoppages as tempers flared.
Highlanders, who impressed with their passing game, had earlier missed several chances in the first half with Shawn Zonda, Peter Muduwa and Denzel Khumalo all coming close.
Bouyed by a vociferous band of travelling fans, they fought for every ball and looked determined to secure maximum points.
Seemingly headed for a victory, Highlanders’ lead proved temporary with top marksman Evans Katema levelling matters with a header seven minutes from full time following a freekick by substitute Seremani Jarrison.
The goal lit up Rufaro. It almost got better a minute later for the hosts, but another goal-bound shot from yet another set piece was cleared off the line by Andrew Mbeba.
Great teams often respond like this. Things often go their way in knife edge moments like these. Fighting from a goal down to finally secure a share of the spoils in games like this is a mark of a great team.
There is this feeling that Dynamos could have, with a little bit of luck, won the contest as Katema was also denied a goal early into the second half after finding himself unmarked in the danger zone, but his header crashed against the upright on 56 minutes.
However, a draw was a fair result considering the hard work put in by the visitors.
It was perhaps a bad advertisement for the local game as the match became more about the result and less about performance with especially Highlanders employing all tricks to disturb the flow of the match, including remonstrating with referee Munyaradzi Majoni every time a decision went against them.
Although Highlanders coach Pieter De Jong welcomed the draw, he condemned the way his side had been treated before the match when they were refused entry into the stadium by the home team in a bid to frustrate them.
“I think the match was 50-50. It ended 1-1, but in my coaching career, in 29 years I am surprised how does it happen that the away team spend 35 minutes outside failing to enter the stadium. It’s unprofessional. How does that happen,” said De Jong, who also bemoaning the poor state of Rufaro.
His counterpart Tonderai Ndiraya also complained about the pitch.
“The surface was not good for the flow of football. It made it difficult to implement tactics, but I thought we had a good performance in the first half. I was surprised we never took a shot at goal. In the second half, I was disappointed that we controlled play, but conceded a very soft goal. It was down to inexperience, but I am happy we showed some character in coming back. It’s a good result, especially against an improved Highlanders. I am worried though we have become draw specialists, we are conceding stupid goals,” he said.
Dynamos: S Chinani, E Jalayi, T Muringani, M Mawadza, G Mukambi, T Chisi, (N Claude Junior, 78’), A Maliselo, A Gutu, (N Katawa, 68’), E Sadomba, E Katema, S Gonda,(S Jarrison, 55’)
Highlanders: A Sibanda, M Phiri, M Ndlovu, A Mbepa, N Masunda, G Makaruse, (T Ndlovu, 81’), B Banda, A Silla, T Makanda, D Khumalo