HIGHLANDERS were left licking their wounds after a late equaliser was disallowed for off-side in the 78th minute in a controversial moment in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League five-goal thriller played at Rufaro Stadium yesterday.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Dynamos . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) 3
Highlanders . .. . . . . . . .(1) 2
With Dynamos leading 3-2 after Qadr Amini had given coach David Mandigora some breathing space in the 73rd minute, Highlanders rightback Webster Chingodza flighted a long throw into the box that was headed down by Obadiah Tarumbwa onto the path of Edwin Muzanenhamo.
Muzanenhamo hit the ball first time and it nestled into the nets. And away Highlanders players wheeled away to celebrate.
At that moment, Dynamos goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva took to his defenders to blast them on poor defending, but lo and behold, the near side assistant referee Bongani Gahadzikwa ruled out the goal for offside.
Television replays clearly showed there was no offside and referee Norman Matemera had correctly pointed to the circle for the goal. Both coaches remained mum on the goal, but Dynamos mentor David Mandigora admitted Highlanders were the better side in the second half.
“I am particularly happy that we got three points. It’s a great victory for us. We want to thank our supporters. They were our 12th man today. We played well, but Highlanders were the better side in the second half. They dominated, but I was not happy with conceding a goal soon after halftime,” said Mandigora.
Mandigora came into the match on the back of three successive draws and had he failed again to win yesterday, he could have been nearer to the exit than ever before.
Bosso coach Bongani Mafu expressed his disappointment at the final whistle, believing they should have won the match after taking the lead.
“It’s a game we should have won. We played well, we dominated, but we couldn’t hold on to win. There is lack of maturity when you lead and fail to hold onto the lead. Our team needs a win. We need to finish off games and this result is not good for ourselves. It’s not good for our supporters. Highlanders is a good brand and we need to win our matches,” said a dejected Mafu.
It was the clash of the biggest football teams in the country. And it was a great performance from both teams that produced five splendid goals including a brace from either side by Ronald Chitiyo and Knox Mutizwa.
Highlanders displayed one of their best performances in recent years, but just as in anything in life, in football you also need luck. Highlanders didn’t have that luck and that goal disallowed in the second half means Dynamos, once again, walked away with the bragging rights at the end of a bruising contest that kept fans on the edges of their seats.
Bosso went into the match desperate to halt a poor run against their rivals stretching way back to 2006 when they last beat Dynamos twice in league matches.
And it looked so promising with the visitors racing into the lead after six minutes when Mutizwa converted from the spot after Augustine Mbara had illegally brought down Obadiah Tarumbwa in the penalty box and Matemera justifiably pointed to the spot.
However, Bosso’s lead proved temporary as Chitiyo levelled after six minutes, controlling the ball with his chest from Dominic Chungwa to beat goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda with a stunning left foot shot.
Chitiyo completed his brace on 19 minutes, pouncing on a loose ball to drill home in a crowded box after Masimba Mambare’s initial attempt between the legs of the keeper was blocked and the Highlanders defence was slow to clear.
As Dynamos went into the lead, frustration appeared to take its toll in the stands housing Bosso supporters and also on the field of play with the fans throwing missiles on the pitch every time when a decision by the referee went against them while Mutizwa was involved in an altercation with Dynamos defender Elisha Muroiwa which invited yellow cards for both players.
There were too many heavy tackles in the match which attracted six yellow cards in all.
Chitiyo also came close 34 minutes later, but his speculative shot was saved by the keeper. Four minutes later Mutizwa missed a good opportunity — electing to dribble instead of shooting at goal.
In the second half, Mafu pulled off Simon Munawa, who was sitting on a yellow card, throwing in Nqobizitha Masuku and barely a minute after the substitution, Mutizwa completed his brace with a superb header off a free kick by Muzanenhamo to level matters.
Thereafter, Bosso dominated, launching wave after wave of attack on the Dynamos goal. But as the visitors appeared on course to run away victors, Amin, returning from an injury, thrust Dynamos ahead, planting a firm header into the nets on 73 minutes.
There were also incidents of missile-throwing on the Dynamos end towards the end of the match, but the Harare side held on for another win.
Dynamos: T Mukuruva, O Mwerahari, A Mbara, E Muroiwa, O Mushure, Q Amini, (B Moyo 85th), G Murwira, S Alimenda, M Mambare (K Bulaji 65th), R Chitiyo, D Chungwa (F Mupasiri 70th)
Highlanders: A Sibanda, W Chingodza, H Moyo, E Mudzingwa, B Kangwa, S Munawa (N Masuku 46th), R Kutsanzira (S Sithole 87th), K Nadolo, E Muzanenhamo, O Tarumbwa, K Mutizwa