Raymond Jaravaza and Nkosilodumo Ndebele, Sports Correspondents
TWO second half goals secured Bulawayo Chiefs an important 2-0 win over resilient ZRP Bulawayo Province in a Zifa Southern Region Division One league match at Fairbridge on Saturday.
Prior to the match, Chiefs’ coach Thulani Sibanda had acknowledged the threat posed by the police team.
And true to his prediction, ZRP Bulawayo Province made life difficult for the log leaders with a spirited first half performance that gave Sibanda and his charges a fright.
Solid at the back and a threat to the Chiefs’ backline, the hosts were in a no-nonsense mood from the onset.
There was an anxious moment for ZRP Bulawayo Province in the 26th minute when their goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni just managed to push out Fortune Nkomazana’s grounder.
Nyoni is a former Highlanders goalie, who was offloaded by the Bulawayo giants at the beginning of the 2017 Premier Soccer League season.
Nkomazana then broke the deadlock with a simple tap-in after Nyoni had failed to cut off a cross from Arthur Musiiwa.
Substitute Adrian Banana delighted his coaches and teammates with his first touch of the game when he calmly chested down a long aerial pass, beat two ZRP Bulawayo Province defenders and slotted Chiefs’ second goal in the 65th minute.
Chiefs coach Sibanda believes it’s important that his team remains grounded going into the second half of the season.
“It’s important that we remain grounded as we go into the second half of the season. All we have to do now is to consolidate our lead.
“We played according to our game plan, which was to contain the opponents and catch them on the counter attack,” said Sibanda.
Rodgers Ndlovu, the ZRP Bulawayo Province head coach, was adamant that his team was the better side and were punished for complacency.
“It was a balanced game, we created our chances, but we were punished in the second half. When a team concedes, players naturally lose confidence. Bulawayo Chiefs are good this year and we can’t dispute that,” said Ndlovu.
In another Division One league match, Bosso90, a Highlanders developmental side, held Indlovu Iyanyathela to a goalless draw at HQ 1 Brigade yesterday.
The youthful Bosso90 held their own against the army side, which played a physical game, full of running and hard tackling.
Linton Nyambe of Indlovu Iyanyathela hit the cross bar in the 48th minute and Colin Samule failed to slot into an empty net three minutes later.
Indlovu Iyanyathela coach Clemence Chimimba rued the missed chances.
“We created more chances compared to Bosso90, but a draw is good for us considering that we are coming from three consecutive defeats,” said Chimimba.
His target is to finish in the top eight at the end of the season. Bosso90 coach Melusi Sibanda, who is assisting Highlanders’ senior team coach Erol Albay following the recent suspension of assistant coach Amini Soma-Phiri and goalkeepers’ trainer Cosmas Zulu, was happy with the draw.
“We played good a good game, but it wasn’t our day. My players are young, but these boys are going places. We just need to get experienced strikers in the second half of the season,” said Sibanda.