Paul Mundandi in Zvishavane
FC Platinum 0-1 Highlanders
HIGHLANDERS advanced to the semi-finals of the Easycall Cup after pipping FC Platinum in a mouth-watering quarter-final tie at Mandava Stadium yesterday.
Starman and leading marksman Knox Mutizwa scored the priceless goal in the referee’s optional time by beating FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari off an inviting Obidiah Tarumbwa cross.
Highlanders have struggled for form this whole season, but their performance yesterday brought back the smiles that had long disappeared from the faces of their long suffering fans.
“I thank God for scoring. He has been helping me all the time. It’s good for the Highlanders family and I’m thrilled to have scored the all important goal,” said an ecstatic Mutizwa after the match.
Ian Nekati reacted a shade too slow for the home side as he could have easily played the ball into touch before it was laid onto the path of Mutizwa as the match was heading for a penalty shootout.
FC Platinum missed a number of chances with Marshall Mudehwe, who kept the Bosso defenders on their toes all afternoon, failing to direct his efforts on target on numerous occasions.
Zambian import Obrey Chirwa and regular scorer Brian Muzondiwa also fired blanks yesterday as FC Platinum could have easily won the match had the two brought their form from previous matches.
Mhari was also in good form in goals for the home team as he superbly blocked Nqobizitha Masuku’s effort in the 38th minute and then made a double save in the 64th minute to deny match winner Mutizwa.
Defender Eric Mudzingwa also came to the rescue of Bosso when he made a vital off-the-line clearance from a Chirwa effort, with goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda on the wrong side of action in the 82nd minute.
Highlanders’ interim technical director Cosmas Zulu was over the moon for registering a victory over the Zvishavane-based platinum miners.
“I’m excited. FC Platinum are the best team in Zimbabwe so far. They play good football and the match today reminds me of 1986 when I was a coach at Highlanders.
“That was the last time I watched good soccer and FC Platinum should keep it up. My aim is to reach the final and lift the cup,” said Zulu.
The home side coach Norman Mapeza said he was disappointed that his charges conceded a “soft” goal.
“We were all over Highlanders, especially in the second half. We gave them a soft goal, but the truth is that I’m very impressed by my players.
“I also applaud our fans for their support and when decisions were against us they never threw missiles onto the pitch,” Mapeza said.
“They’re playing exciting football and everybody was there to see.
“I’m not even disappointed by my boys, although we would’ve loved to proceed to the next round. I, however, wish Highlanders all the best,” he said.
The match was played before a relatively peaceful crowd, although some Bosso fans at one point threw missiles onto the pitch when referee Norman Musundire had awarded the home side a free-kick in the centre circle.
P Mhari, G Bello, I Nekati, K Moyo, E Moyo, W Mhango, G Takwara, T Dzumbunu (W Kamudyariwa 58th ), T Mudehwe, B Muzondiwa, O Chirwa
A Sibanda, R Kutsanzira, O Tarumbwa, B Kangwa, N Masuku, K Mutizwa, F Chindungwe, D Sibanda, E Mudzingwa, V Ndaba (S Munawa 59th ), P Muduhwa