Innocent Kurira at Barbourfields Stadium
Highlanders 1-1 ZPC Kariba
ZPC KARIBA are as good as safe from relegation from the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League after securing a vital point away against a tepid Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
The result confirmed that Harare City joined Tenax and Whawha as officially relegated while Bulawayo City now need a miracle in their last match of the season away to Black Rhinos at Vengere Stadium. Amakhosi, beaten 2-1 by Harare City at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday need to win and score an excess of 10 goals in their last game against Chauya Chipembere, something which looks impossible.
At the same time, ZPC Kariba will host Herentals at Nyamhunga Stadium hoping they don’t lose by a wide margin as any positive result gained solidifies they stay in the topflight league.
Mathematically, Bulawayo City who are on 33 points have a chance of survival but the odds are heavily stacked against them.
They can only finish with 36 points provided the electricity generators are beaten by the Students but it’s unrealistic they will get the required goals on the last game of the season.
ZPC Kariba knew they had no one else to depend upon and they did themselves a favour by snatching a draw against Highlanders who switched off in the second-half in their last home game of the season.
Stanley Ngala got Highlanders into the lead after 17 minutes of play with a powerful low effort from outside the box.
Three minutes later Bosso could have doubled their lead through Archford Faira who got to the end of an Adrian Silla cross at the back post but his attempt hit the post and bounced back into play.
The visitors equalised in the second stanza through Foster Dhemere after 61 minutes of play.
Highlanders coach Baltemar Brito whose second-half substitutions killed his team’s momentum was left disappointed with failure to get three points on their last game playing in front of their home fans this season.
“Last Thursday we asked supporters to come in large numbers. They did come in good numbers. We wanted to give them a victory to thank them for their support throughout the season with a victory but we did not win. This is not the result that we expected. This is football and we want to say sorry to our fans, we will try and win our last match,” said Brito.
ZPC Kariba coach Darlington Dodo was happy to have boosted his side’s chances of survival.
“We knew Highlanders was playing home and their ball retention is good. We knew they will keep the ball for longer periods and try to make us suffer. So we wanted to repel first and try and catch them on the counter. However in certain areas we could not do it well,” said Dodo.
Brito made some changes to his starting eleven in the absence of the suspended duo of midfielder, Soccer Star of the Year favourite Devine Mhindirira and forward Lynoth Chikuhwa, Bosso’s leading goal scorer in the league with 10 goals.
The Bosso opted for a central midfield pairing of Mason Mushore and Darlington Mukuli with Silla playing ahead of them in a 4-4-1-1 set up. Ngala led the attack.
Some of the fringe players who got a chance to play were Bukhosi Sibanda and Toto Banda but the two struggled with fans whistling for them to be taken out before the pair was eventually substituted at the beginning of the second period.
Highlanders: Raphael Pitisi, Bukhosi Sibanda (Ray Lunga 46 mins), Andrew Mbeba, Adrian Silla( Rahman Kutsanzira 58 mins) , Mason Mushore ( Nqobizitha Masuku 58 mins), Peter Mudhuwa, Stanley Ngala, Toto Banda (Pritchard Mphelele 46 mins) , Darlington Mukuli, Archford Faira, Crispen Ncube
ZPC Kariba: Tapiwa Chilenga, Kuziwakwashe Madima, Boid Mutukure, Diro Nyenye, Munyaradzi Kunyarimwe, Winston Mhango, Collen Muleya, Samuel Makawa, Foster Dhemere (Vassili Kawe 87 mins), Tinotenda Chiunye (Wellington Taderera 87 mins) , Moses Demera.