HIGHLANDERS laid down the marker with an all-round performance and two classy goals in each half that humiliated, bruised and battered Caps United to reclaim the top spot in an adrenaline-charged Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter at Barbourfields Stadium (BF) yesterday.
Highlanders (2) 4
Caps United . . . 0
Highlanders played one of their best games in years with goals coming from Rahman Kutsanzira seven minutes into the game, Ozias Zibande in the 37th minute, Kudakwashe Mahachi 10 minutes after the break and substitute Cleopas Dube in the 81st minute.
The Bulawayo giants are now back at the top with 12 points from six matches at par with new boys ZPC Kariba, who also pummelled Triangle 5-1 in their backyard at Gibbo Stadium yesterday.
Highlanders will travel to Harare for a clash with ZPC Kariba in the next match.
It was a good day in the office for stand-in coach Mark Mathe, who dedicated the victory over the Green Machine to goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya, after the mishap that cost them three points against city neighbours Chicken Inn in a 1-1 draw at BF on Thursday.
“It was a big improvement from the backdrop of the two draws at BF. I just told the boys to go in there and convert the chances and kill off the game. Our wing play was superb and Welcome (Ndiweni) came to the party and I would like to dedicate this win to Diya. He is a young lad. It happens in football, but we played as a unit,” Mathe said.
Ariel Sibanda was between the sticks for Bosso yesterday.
Caps United head coach Taurai Mangwiro admitted that his side fell to a better team but said he was not despairing as he looks forward to the next outing against Black Rhinos at home.
“After Highlanders scored those two first goals, it was always not going to be easy. We allowed them too much space and everything that Highlanders touched turned into gold. We had a slow start from our midfield, but we should not despair after today’s (yesterday) loss. Even big teams in the world have lost with big margins,” Mangwiro said.
Highlanders played a different game yesterday with Kutsanzira and Mahachi on the wings good on recovery, stifling the Caps United midfield and were complemented by support from Ndiweni, who had a part in the hosts’ first three goals.
Caps had started off the game on the offensive with Gerald Phiri and Ishmael Thindwa as right wing Dominic Chungwa troubled Bruce Kangwa, but fizzled out after Highlanders scored.
Returning to the starting line-up after sitting on the bench on Thursday, captain Innocent Mapuranga’s long searching ball from the left was met by Kutsanzira who headed it to Charles Sibanda, who in turn sent it to Zibande with a header and the latter tapped back to Kutsanzira, whose header beat Caps United goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube to give Bosso the first goal.
Another build-up that involved Ndiweni and Mahachi resulted in a cross from the left and a header by Zibande to make it two.
In the 55th minute, Kutsanzira spotted an unmarked Mahachi far on the right after exchanges with Ndiweni and Mahachi let off a screamer past Tafadzwa on the near post to make it three.
Dube then rose from the bench and with his second touch after he was sent through by Simon Munawa, he made no mistake powering the ball past Tafadzwa to finish off Caps United.
Caps United came close to scoring in the 28th minute, but Chungwa’s effort after dribbling past Kangwa was safely collected by Sibanda while substitute Pervington Zimunya had his effort from a set piece also palmed back into play by Sibanda.
First half substitutions by Mangwiro who brought in Hardlife Zvirekwi for Tinashe Mukanhaire in the 41st minute and Moses Muchenje for injured skipper Tapiwa Khumbuyani a minute before the break, did not work out for Caps United, who dropped to 11th position after the loss.
A Sibanda, S Munawa, B Kangwa, D Ndlovu, I Mapuranga, E Mudzingwa, R Kutsanzira (K Banda 56th minute), W Ndiweni, O Zibande (C Dube 80th minute), K Mahachi, C Sibanda (M Sibanda 86th minute)
T Dube, T Khumbuyani (M Muchenje 44th minute), B Zabula, S Makatuka, R Pfumbidzai, T Samanja, D Mukandi, G Phiri (P Zimunya 72nd minute), T Mukanhaire (H Zvirekwi 41st minute), I Thindwa, D Chungwa