From Ray Bande in Rusape
Dongo Sawmill. . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 0
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)1
HIGHLANDERS’ coach Bongani Mafu was visibly relieved after watching his team labour to a narrow away win over newboys and basement outfit Dongo Sawmill in a Castle Lager Premiership soccer match at Vengere yesterday.
Highlanders were without a shot at goal in the first 20 minutes of the match while Dongo Sawmill started off on the offensive, pilling pressure on the visitors and literally camping in the visitors half but somehow their strikers lacked precision in front of goal.
Judging by Bosso’s performance, Mafu still has a lot of homework to do and the learned gaffer cannot really draw much comfort from yesterday’s “lucky” goal that, however, earned his team the much-needed maximum points.
Dongo’s Martin Nyazira almost put his name on the score-sheet in the 14th minute when he got to the end of a tantalising cross from Dion Countinho but alert Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda punched the ball to safety.
In the 19th minute, dreadlocked defender Felix Chindugwe received a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Dongo striker Physwell Madhazi.
However, unmarked Nqobizitha Masuku propelled Highlanders into the lead when he headed home a cross from the right as he took advantage of the ball watching Dongo defenders.
Highlanders almost doubled their lead in the 39th minute when Simon Munawa worked his way past Countinho and Last Jasi but his hard-and-low cross found no takers for Bosso in the box.
For the greater part of the second half, the visitors dominated play, especially in the middle of the park where Dongo were missing dependable midfield duo of Dereck Chitsanzira and Khumbulani Katandika, who were both on suspension.
Bosso could have extended their lead in the 75th minute but striker Gabriel Nyoni made a mess of Masuku’s cross when he blasted his effort over the crossbar from close range.
Though visibly elated by the result, Mafu refused to talk to the media, opting to delegate his assistant Mandla Mpofu who praised the players for playing according to instructions.
“As you know after the defeat to Chapungu at home last week the pressure was mounting on the Highlanders family and this away win could not have come at a better time. Playing in a pitch that is bumpy, I think the boys showed character and the performance was commendable,” said Mpofu.
Dongo Sawmills coach Shadreck “Father” Mugurasave, who painfully watched his side slumping to their fourth defeat of the season, said he was happy with their overall performance although they conceded a silly goal.
“We are playing well but somehow we continue conceding silly goals. This is the fourth time that we have lost after conceding silly goals. The sad thing is that we are losing by the same margin. Just like any other coach I would have loved to win but I am happy with the fighting spirit that we have though results are not coming as much as we would have loved,” he said.
Dongo are yet to get even a single point while playing at home after losing all the three home matches they have played at Vengere. The Francis Dongo-owned outfit lost to How Mine, Triangle and now Highlanders, all at Vengere.
T. Mberi, M. Tapatapa; K. Njovo (D. Maneya 80th minute); K. Chideu; E. Chikwaikwai; T. Mapungwana; S. Sithole (L. Masibera 49th minute)); L. Jasi; D. Countinho; P. Madhazi; M. Nyazira.
A. Sibanda; W. Chingodza; T. Hadebe; S. Munawa; T. Chideu (S. Sithole 52nd minute); B. Kangwa; N. Masuku; F. Chindungwe; O. Zibande (E. Muzanenhamo 95th minute); V. Ndaba (E. Ndaba 65th minute); G Nyoni