BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE IN MHONDORO-NGEZI
FC Platinum…….. (0) 1
Highlanders…….. (0) 0
TEENAGE sensation Panashe Mutimbanyoka was the hero of the day after his brilliant strike early in the second half knocked holders Highlanders out of the Chibuku Super Cup last eight encounter at Baobab Stadium yesterday.
It was a highly tactical match, involving national team coach Norman Mapeza and his assistant Mandla Mpofu, which provided very little room to breathe for both teams.
The teams were cautious at first, as FC Platinum dominated the early exchanges, but failed to open up the Bosso defence.
Highlanders would go on to rue missing the best chance of the game when Washington Navaya came face to face with Petros Mhari and fired straight at the goalkeeper after he was sent through by Bukhosi Sibanda.
After a goalless first half the match clearly needed a hero or else it had a penalty shootout written all over it.
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Up stepped the 19-year-old Mutimbanyoka, getting to the end of another young star Kelvin Mangiza’s dangerous cross into the box.
Like a veteran of many epic battles Mutimbanyoka controlled the ball before side-stepping his marker and firing into the roof of the net.
Whatever coach Mapeza said during the breather worked wonders as FC Platinum created chances early in the second.
They even had the luxury of missing a penalty on the hour mark, which saw goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda making a clean save to deny veteran forward Rodwell Chinyengetere.
Mbongeni Ndlovu had handled in the box under pressure.
There was no way back for Highlanders amid a downpour as FC Platinum held on to the slender lead.
“It was a good game of football. I think possession wise we did very well. The only challenge we had was in the final third. I think we were not creative especially in the first half,” Mapeza said.
“But come second half I told those boys at the wings that if you are not going to take any risks we are not going to create those opportunities. Lucky enough inside five minutes of the second half we managed to get that goal.
“And that penalty miss, it’s part of the game and after that (Donald) Teguru missed another good opportunity. I think we still need to work more on that final third.”
FC Platinum were lucky to have defender Lawrence Mhlanga escape a red card after just three minutes for a crude tackle on Peter Muduhwa, which earned him a yellow card.
Apart from the one clear cut chance that fell to Navaya, Bosso played second fiddle for the better part of the game.
Mpofu had reason to believe that his team will be difficult to beat when the league competition begin.
“I can say we have built something that is going to compete. I might say we could have done better in the first half. I think we had one golden opportunity that was supposed to kill the game,” Mpofu said.
“And I said to my boys at half time if they can get that goal its all over. First half we did well in terms of ball possession and ball rotation we managed to match them.
“In the second half I introduced Josta [Joel Ngodzo] to come and up our game, here comes rain and we couldn’t pull those passes but I am happy for the lads, they fought until the last minute.”
And save for the serious injury suffered by Highlanders defender Andrew Mbeba after clashing heads with Mhari in the second half and a heavy downpour late in the game, it was an exhibition of good football.
Mbeba and Mhari were stretchered off the field of play, but they were treated at the stadium before they were released to their teams.
Today’s fixtures: Cranbourne Bullets v Harare City (11am), Black Rhinos v Dynamos (3pm).