Highlanders . . . .(0) 1
Caps United . . . . (1) 2
HIGHLANDERS were left to rue failure to convert superior ball possession into goals after they were eliminated from the Bob 91 Cup competition by Caps United in an incident-filled encounter at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Rodreck Mutuma and Takudzwa Mahori scored for the Green Machine to set up a final against Dynamos next Sunday at Rufaro Stadium – the second meeting of the two teams in three weeks.
Highlanders replied through substitute Obadiah Tarumbwa.
Bosso coach Bongani Mafu admitted his charges had not played badly, but might have to learn how to develop a killer punch upfront.
“I think for 30 to 40 minutes we were untouchable, but being untouchable without shooting at goal does not win you games.
“We played good football, but did not have the hunger to shoot at goal and that is something that we have to correct at training,” Mafu said.
Bosso dominated proceedings from the onset, but paid for failure to find the target when a tactical masterstroke by Caps United coach Mark Harrison turned the game on its head less than 10 minutes before the break.
Harrison introduced Leonard Tsipa for the ineffective Kudzai Nyamupfukudza on 36 minutes and the pendulum suddenly swung Caps’ way as the striker turned provider for Mutuma’s opener on the stroke of half time.
After the break the exciting Mahori doubled the visitor’s lead when he went past Highlanders linkman Nqobizitha Masuku before firing across the face of goal to beat Bosso keeper Ariel Sibanda at the far post.
The goal came when the hosts were down to 10 men with defender Douglas Sibanda on the touchline receiving treatment after getting a knock from Mutuma.
That confrontation between Sibanda and Mutuma was the first of ugly scenes that characterised the tie later on culminating in a 12-minute stoppage after Highlanders had pulled one back through Tarumbwa on 71 minutes.
The Caps players felt harddone by referee Philani Ncube’s decision to let Tarumbwa’s effort stand as they felt the striker had scored while their keeper was under attack from missiles thrown from the Soweto end.
It seemed like the match would end prematurely as Harrison was seen motioning to players to leave the pitch, but the Englishman told journalists after the match that he had been concerned about his players’ safety.
“I was just concerned about my players’ safety and when I called them it was to tell them to be strong and fight together when the match resumed.
“I think the Highlanders fans did us a favour because after the stoppage my players played with a lot of heart,” Harrison said.
He did admit though that Highlanders were the better side for the first 30 minutes of the game and attributed the turnaround in the match to Tsipa’s entry which allowed Caps to play with two effective strikers upfront.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, W Chingodza, H Moyo, D Sibanda, T Hadebe, T Ngulube, N Masuku, R Kutsanzira, B Kangwa (G Makaruse 84 min), G Nyoni (O Tarumbwa 66 min), T Chideu.
Caps United: v Twaliki, H Zvirekwi, R Pfumbidzai, S Makatuka, J Jangano, L Fiyado (C Machisi 67th min), M Muchenje, D Mukandi, T Mahori, R Mutuma, K Nyamupfukudza (L Tsipa 36 min)