Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
Highlanders 0 – 0 Nichrut
A CASE of missed opportunities for Highlanders in the first half and a physical approach by both teams was the script for the day as newly promoted Premiership side Nichrut held Bosso at Luveve Stadium yesterday.
An appreciative crowd turned up to watch the almost new look Highlanders side being rebuild by legendary Madinda Ndlovu as they took on the Shurugwi based outfit Nichrut.
The Premiership new boys from the Midlands province gave a good account of themselves and even if they finished a man down, after veteran winger Farai Vimisayi was shown a red card deep in the second half for “foul language” directed at the referee, they held on.
Highlanders had clearer opportunities of winning the game, especially in the first stanza, with one of the new boys MacClive Phiri stamping his authority as he delivered some good crosses from the right that lone striker Thabo Lunga failed to bury.
Phiri played as a right back, a hint that he is a preferred right side defender ahead of Bukhosi Ncube for Bosso.
Lunga is a product of Highlanders’ Southern Region Division One Soccer League side Bosso 90, and his ability to position himself for scoring, won him marvel from the more than 2 500 crowd that watched the game.
Lunga first spurned a scoring opportunity when his header off a Phiri 14th minute cross was blocked by former Chiredzi FC defender Ephraim Mwenda in the 14th minute. He went on to give away numerous perfect scoring opportunities in the first stanza, giving credence to Ndlovu’s calls for a seasoned striker who will bury chances created.
Highlanders clearly lacked punch at the final third having done everything by the book in their build ups from the back.
Bosso had Ariel Sibanda guarding their goals, Peter Muduhwa partnering Charlton Siamalonga at Central defence with skipper Honest Moyo and Phiri playing as wingback.
New boy Patrick Musaka and Adrian Silla double anchored for Bosso with Gabriel Nyoni and Godknows Makaruse playing on either sides of the midfield. Nigel Makombe, a product of Aces Youth Academy played behind Lunga.
Highlanders first team coach Mandla Mpofu who led the lads from the ground as Ndlovu watched from the grand stand, was happy with the boys’ performance.
“We will take the positives from this game given that we are trying to build a new team. We are bringing in a new philosophy were we are emphasising on keeping the ball. We were a bit slow in attack today. I think that is an area that we have to work on. Our finishing was not as sharp going forward. I think we should work on that but young Lunga did very well. Zibande also came in and showed hunger for goal which is good. Defensively, I think we did a very good job. Overall the new boys did very well,” Mpofu said.
Nichrut coach, John Nykazino, whose side has to work on their defensive frailties as they allowed Highlanders to breach their rearguard many a times, was content with his team’s fitness levels and tactical discipline.
However, the former Chapungu coach who paraded the likes of ex-Tsholotsho trio of Ocient Ncube, Nkosilathi Moyo and Bruno Madanhire, expressed his disappointment on Vimisayi’s indiscipline.
“It’s unfortunate that we got an unnecessary red card. Vimisayi should know better that as a player he should never argue with the referee. The game was not bad at all, we were jittery in the first half but in the second half the boys played very well. We had to be tactically sound against a big team like Highlanders and that is why we laid back and tried to get them on counter attack. I am happy with the effort from my boys and we are grateful that Highlanders gave us this opportunity to have a run and check our level of preparedness,” said Nyikadzino.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, M Phiri, H Moyo, P Muduhwa, C Siamalonga, P Musaka (M Chitambwe 83), A Silla (B Banda 61 ), N Makumbe, G Makaruse (R Lunga 86), G Nyoni, T Lunga (O Zibande 68)
Nichrut: B Sibanda, G Bhero (T Sibelo 66), N Moyo, E Mwinga, B Madanhire, O Ncube (S Sithole 45),J Chivasa (L Nhakwi 45), F Vimisai, N Mpinduki (K Sibanda 61), T Jabangwe, V Moyo ( T Hapazari 60)