Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
Highlanders 1-1 Dynamos
(match abandoned after 40 minutes)
FORTY minutes of the explosive Castle Lager Premiership flagship clash between traditional rivals Highlanders and Dynamos were played at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo before the game was abandoned due to crowd trouble yesterday.
An equaliser by Dynamos’ Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa in the 40th minute sparked the trouble, as Highlanders’ fans threw missiles at second assistant referee Thomas Kusosa protesting the goal.
Epoupa scored from a clear offside position, but Kusosa did not flag him and instead signalled a goal.
With missiles raining on Kusosa, the Gweru-based assistant referee ran to the centre of the field as Bosso players and officials tried to calm down fans.
Twice the fans chased Kusosa away from the touchline and after lengthy deliberations, match commissioner Edson Nkau and the referees called off the match.
“The game has been called off due to crowd trouble,” was all Nkau was prepared to say.
The result of the blockbuster will now be determined in the boardroom and Highlanders are likely to be sanctioned for their fans’ behaviour.
Scenes at Barbourfields Stadium were captured on SuperSport, which started broadcasting matches for the 2017 season on Saturday and the disturbances were clearly not the best way to market local football.
Facing off in a year the PSL is celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Highlanders and Dynamos clash had lived to its billing, with the atmosphere at Barbourfields electric, until Kusosa’s blunder.
The game started off with Dynamos forcing two corner kicks inside the first minute which Highlanders easily dealt with.
In the third minute Dynamos’ goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga pulled a great save to deny Highlanders’ midfielder Simon Munawa a goal after being fed by Rodreck Mutuma.
After that, Highlanders started to slowly control the game, with midfielders Erick Mudzingwa, Munawa, Rahman Kutsanzira and Allen Gahadzikwa winning most duels and opening up the visitors.
Dynamos’ anchorman Tichaona Chipunza was exposed by his fellow midfielders Denver Mukamba and Wisdom Mutasa, who were not marking.
Mutasa popped up from his slumber in the 19th minute with a screamer from outside the box which Highlanders’ goalie Ariel Sibanda pushed out for corner.
Highlanders finally turned their dominance into a goal in the 23rd minute with skipper Kutsanzira scoring from outside the box after receiving a pass following a corner kick by Gahadzikwa.
It was a clear move from the training ground as Dynamos were caught unawares.
It was only after the half-hour mark that Dynamos crept back into the game, dictating pace in midfield.
Then came the moment of madness that halted the match in the 40th minute when Kusosa allowed Epoupa’s offside goal to stand.
All hell broke loose and fans at the Empankweni stand where Kusosa was officiating from demanded that he be replaced complaining he was biased against Bosso.
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Bukhosi Ncube, Honest Moyo, Tendai Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Erick Mudzingwa, Simon Munawa, Rahman Kutsanzira, Allen Gahadzikwa, Prince Dube, Rodreck Mutuma
Substitutes: King Nadolo, Brian Banda, Tendai Ngulube, Gabriel Nyoni, Benson Phiri, Prosper Matutu, Ralph Mathema
Dynamos: Tonderai Mateyaunga, Peace Makaha, Ocean Mushure, Marshal Machazane, Elisha Muroiwa, Tichaona Chipunza, Denver Mukamba, Wisdom Mutasa, Emmanuel Mandiranga, Tawanda Macheke, Christian Epoupa
Substitutes: Masimba Mambare, Valentine Ndaba, Phakamani Dube, Carlos Rusere, Kudzanai Dhemere, Quality Kangadzi, Blessing Mwandimutsira
Match Day 8 Results
Saturday: How Mine 0-0 FC Platinum, Bulawayo City 0-1 Black Rhinos, ZPC Kariba 2-0 Tsholotsho FC, Yadah FC 0-1 Chicken Inn
Yesterday: Hwange 0-0 Triangle United, Shabanie Mine 0-0 Chapungu, Harare City 0-1 Ngezi Platinum, Highlanders 1-1 Dynamos (match abandoned), Caps United v Bantu Rovers (Postponed)