Highlanders . . . . (2) 2
Chiredzi . . . . . . . (0) 1
IT HAD to take something special for this win to finally come for Highlanders after a barren 450 minutes of pain and anguish.
And it did take a first-half double from young Ozias Zibande as Highlanders finally remembered how to win after six long and torturous games when they edged 10-man Chiredzi at Hartsfield Stadium yesterday.
Having dropped to seventh with 39 points for the whole of October where they lost to Harare City, Caps United, Chicken Inn and Hwange, in addition to losing to ZPC Kariba at the end of September, Highlanders knew this was the match they needed to win to fight for a top-four finish.
They moved into sixth with 42 points, the same as Hwange, but have an inferior goal margin. They pushed Chicken Inn one place down into seventh as the GameCox are on 41 points.
Zibande struck the opener in the 14th minute and completed his brace in the 24th minute before Chiredzi pulled one back through Sam Msimbu in the 65th minute.
Chiredzi, already relegated, finished the match a man short after goalkeeper Simon Katifire was given marching orders by referee Nkosana Nduna for hacking down Highlanders striker Godfrey Makaruse in an off-the- ball incident in the 86th minute.
They were forced to make use of forward Tatenda Kanyemba as they had no substitute goalkeeper and had exhausted their replacements.
The match was stopped for about five minutes as they prepared Kanyemba to take responsibility.
The win was a big relief for Mathe.
“We need to give praise to God because the club has been going through trying times,” he said.
“Even though we have been losing we have been playing well. Highlanders supporters will look at the final result, but not at the final product if it’s a loss nobody looks at the positives. But today I am happy that we got a result. We are in a very unfamiliar position.”
Chiredzi gaffer Gishon Ntini said: “We lost the match in the first 20 minutes. From then I think we adjusted well, especially in the second half when we managed to pull one back. At least Highlanders played with zeal today. They wanted to win.”
About the red card, Ntini was not amused.
“It is a funny thing. I have never seen it in the world because if it was a foul, he was supposed to give a red card and a penalty.
Maybe I need to revisit the laws (of the game) on what to do with a free-kick when you have given someone a red card.”
Gabriel Nyoni who has been sidelined for weeks due to injury was back although Mathe said he was not at his best.
Nyoni assisted in both goals scored by Zibande. In the first goal in the 14th minute, he found Valentine Ndaba inside the box whose shot was punched away by the goalkeeper Kafitire, but Zibande nodded home the rebound.
Ten minutes later, Nyoni spotted Zibande in the box and sent in a perfect cross that the latter again headed in.
Msimbu took advantage of the hosts’ defenders failure to clear in the 65th minute and coasted to the blind side. Felix Chindungwe and Bruce Kangwa were concentrating on Kanyemba who spotted the unmarked Msimbu. Msimbu obliged with a shot that beat Munyaradzi Diya in goal.
Just before the goal Highlanders welfare manager Willard Khumalo had indicated to technical advisor Cosmas Zulu that the coach wanted to make a substitution, but the latter turned him down, a further sign that things are not all well at Bosso.
Highlanders: M Diya, B Kangwa, D Ndlovu, F Chindungwe, S Munawa, M Maphosa, V Ndaba (K Nadolo 81st minute), K Mutizwa (G Makaruse 69th minute), C Sibanda, G Nyoni (M Sibanda 73rd minute), O Zibande
Chiredzi: S Kafitire (red card 86th minute), T Mutete (T Ndlovu 70th minute), D Bakali, G Kwaramba (M Gaki 46th minute), M Chinembeza, M Muneri, T Mufungu (K Nyamupfukudza 80th minute), T Muyendi, S Msimbu, T Kanyemba (goalkeeper 86th minute), D Sengu Maketo.