Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
BULAWAYO football giants Highlanders made sure that they build their confidence ahead of their clash with Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum by beating Black Rhinos 1-0 to continue on a fine start.
Highlanders, who are yet to put up a convincing show on the field, have had a brighter start to the season compared to the 2021/22 campaign where they had a disastrous start under Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu, which saw them amass four points from as many games. Even after Match Day Five, Bosso were stuck on four points last season.
For the 2021/22 season, Highlanders started with an away 2-0 defeat to Black Rhinos, followed by a 0-0 draw with Ngezi Platinum Stars and then lost their third game away at Manica Diamonds 1-0.
Bosso registered their first win on Match Day Four, beating Whawha 2-0 at Barbourfields Stadium. This was followed by a 1-0 shock loss to Bulawayo City at Emagumeni.
Boring as their display has been, Highlanders who have a tricky opening five games have done well to better their season’s start, having first played to a 0-0 home draw against ZPC Kariba and at the weekend winger McKinnon Mushore scored a priceless goal that secured three points for Amahlolanyama against Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium.
Bosso’s victory ended a six-year away winless streak against Chauya Chipembere since their readmission to the Premiership in 2017.
That Mushore, promoted from the developmental side Bosso 90 amid protests from some of the Highlanders members has managed to make an impression with a goal is laudable and Bosso fans will hope that they keep it tight and give an improved show when they host FC Platinum in their next match.
The league champions, who edged Cranborne Bullets 1-0 through a Brian Banda goal have had a perfect start to the season, being part of the teams that haven’t dropped points in the opening two games, with the other being pacesetters Dynamos.
In their opening match, FC Platinum, who are second on the table due to an inferior goal difference showed the true champions spirit, coming from a goal down to beat league newcomers Simba Bhora 2-1 courtesy of a brace by Juan Mutudza at the National Sports Stadium.
Pure Platinum Play, who will be making a trip to Barbourfields Stadium where they edged Highlanders 3-2 last season, are expected to give Bosso a good run for their money presenting the first leg of the real test in the opening five games for Baltemar Brito’s men.
After the FC Platinum match, Highlanders will lock horns with Chicken Inn in a local derby. The Gamecocks edged Simba Bhora 1-0 at the weekend to take their point tally to four in two games.
Central midfielder Shepherd Mhlanga scored the winning goal for the 2015 champions that condemned the Tonderai Ndiraya coached Simba Bhora to their second defeat of the season. It was not a result that Ndiraya dreamt of heading to his next assignment against his former paymasters Dynamos who top the table having clobbered Premiership new arrivals Sheasham 4-0 at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Dynamos, who won their opening game 1-0 against league returnees Hwange had their opening goal scored by Sheasham’s defender Zivanai Chikwenhere. DeMbare skipper Frank Makarati and Emmanuel Paga found a goal apiece for the Harare giants.
Hwange bounced back from the narrow loss to Dynamos, to edge Yadah 2-1 at Baobab Stadium. The coalminers shot into the lead in the 24th minute through Itai Makopa before Yadah drew level in the 79th minute through a deflected shot. Substitute Solomon Sithole got the winner for Hwange in the 89th minute.
Hwange coach Nation Dube heaped praises on his charges, adding that the 68th minute triple substitution they made when they introduced James Chivasa, Blessing Ngoma and Canaan Nkomo for Sipho Ndlovu, King Nasama as well as Tendai Muvhuti was a game changer.
“It was a good game and a good victory away from home. If the boys keep on getting game time and improving with every outing our work in progress will come out well.
“The strategy was simple, we had to keep our game changers Canaan, Solo (Sithole) and Jimmy (Chivasa) on the bench and when they came on, they made a huge difference.
“Now we go back home to prepare for our next game against Green Fuel,” said Dube.
Former Highlanders captain Bekithemba Ndlovu began his Green Fuel coaching stint with a 1-1 draw against Herentals. Ndlovu took over the head coach’s position from Lloyd Mutasa last week, days after Green Fuel suffered a 1-0 defeat to Yadah on their Premiership debut. Mutasa has been elevated to the post of technical director.
In other results, Ngezi Platinum Stars and Caps United drew 0-0, with Manica Diamonds and Triangle United also sharing spoils by a similar score line. — @ZililoR