HOW Highlanders have remained on top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League after dropping seven points in three games is a wonder, and yesterday, they fell to their second league defeat of the season to a supercharged Black Rhinos at Rimuka Stadium.
MICHAEL MADYIRA in KADOMA
Black Rhinos . . . . (0) 1
Highlanders . . . . . . . . 0
In their third straight winless game, Kelvin Kaindu’s men had to thank Chiredzi FC and Chicken Inn for holding their closest rivals ZPC Kariba and Dynamos respectively.
After enjoying a reprieve from last Sunday’s 0-0 draw with How Mine following ZPC and Dynamos draws on the same weekend, Highlanders were lucky to remain leaders yesterday and are now on level points, 32, with their rivals although enjoying a superior goal difference.
However, the result gives Caps United the chance to assume top spot this afternoon should they win in Hwange.
It was Bosso’s second loss of the season and a win by either ZPC Kariba or Dynamos could have dislodged them from the top.
“The game was ours to win, but we failed to convert our chances especially those two opportunities at the end of the game,” Kaindu said.
“I cannot complain much about the way we played, but we need to improve a lot. Yes, we failed to win for the third successive game and that is how football can be sometimes. But hopefully we will recover next time.”
It was a good day in the office from the opposite dugout as Rhinos new coach Jostein Mathuthu recorded third unbeaten game since taking over from Arthur Tutani.
Mathuthu colourfully passed a stern Bosso test after denying Dynamos a win at the same venue three days earlier.
“I am excited,” he said. “That cannot be asked. A job well done by the boys. This result will go a long way in motivating us as we fight relegation.”
A poor first half of few chances from either side spelt a low-scoring afternoon.
Knox Mutizwa failed to connect a Bruce Kangwa cross five minutes into the match in what was Highlanders’ meaningful chance of the opening half.
Rhinos did not pose any threat to the visitors who watched Charles Sibanda’s free-kick closely miss the target on the stroke of halftime.
Kaindu appeared to have asked a lot from his charges at half time with Pasca Manhanga shooting from outside the box two minutes after the restart, but Rhinos goalkeeper Samuel Mafukidze did well to save.
Three minutes later, Bosso’s Hillary Madzivanyika had a shot narrowly missing goal.
From a seemingly harmless move seven minutes into the second stanza, Chiwunga dribbled across past Dumisani Ndlovu, Innocent Mapuranga and Kangwa to shoot past an unexpecting Ariel Sibanda and decide the afternoon.
Douglas Mbewe could have increased Rhinos’ lead, but his shot was not direct at goal.
Bosso’s first attempt to come back was on the hour mark when Mafukidze denied Knox Mutizwa while substitute Welcome Ndiweni headed just wide with six minutes to go.
Kaindu rued close efforts by Charles who miscued a cross and Mthulisi Maphosa’s deflection of a Mudzingwa goal-bound effort in injury time.