Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE absence of suspended skipper Erick Mudzingwa and his injured deputy Rahman Kutsanzira has been felt at Highlanders as the Bulawayo giants were crudely exposed in their last three games.
Bosso have lost two and squeezed a win in their last three games.
Highlanders lost on penalties to a largely inexperienced Dynamos side in a pulsating Independence Cup final before a capacity crowd at the giant National Sports Stadium on Tuesday.
The match could have ended in regulation time had it not been for a last gasp penalty awarded to them by referee Brighton Chimene. Veteran striker Ralph Matema levelled matters from the resultant spot kick to force the match into the dreaded penalty lottery.
Bosso though could argue that DeMbare would not have scored had Chimene blown his whistle after second assistant referee Claris Simango raised her flag for an offside against the Harare outfit. The raised flag resulted in goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda moving out of his line in anticipation of a free-kick, but as he retreated upon noticing that play was still on, Masimba Mambare pounced. Simango ought to have kept her flag up.
But despite the debatable match referee’s decisions, Highlanders had struggled, particularly in midfield, and that has been the case since the injury of Kutsanzira in the 3-0 demolition of FC Platinum and Mudzingwa’s red card against Shabanie Mine.
The two players are gifted with ball passing skills and marking, and they usually win possession and give the ball to players like young Brian Banda, Allan Gahadzikwa and Simon Munawa.
Kutsanzira is also a good dribbler and passer of the ball, while Mudzingwa is a grafter in the crucial midfield department.
While Munawa wins the ball, Gahadzikwa and Banda rarely do so, meaning Bosso are always in danger when opponents are in possession. Strikers Prince Dube and Rodrick Mutuma have been seen in the midfield territory trying to win the ball and if they do, they can only pass it within or send a back pass because there won’t be anyone upfront.
Highlanders have only managed two goals in open play in the three matches they have played without Kutsanzira and Mudzingwa, but managed to score three in one match when the duo was present.
“We badly need the two players; that is why there is no opportunity to change our style of play if our initial plan fails. We tried it yesterday but it did not have that impact hence the reason we badly miss Kutsanzira and Mudzingwa,” said coach Erol Akbay.
Kutsanzira, said Akbay, might make his return this weekend when they play bogey side ZPC Kariba at Barbourfields Stadium.
Mudzingwa returns for the away trip to Tsholotsho on Wednesday next week.