Flame Lily . . . . . . . . . 0
Highlanders . . . . .(1) 3BULAWAYO giants Highlanders finally found their touch and powered to their most emphatic Castle Lager Premiership victory of the season and in the process buying more time for their under-fire coach Bongani Mafu.
Bosso arrived at Lafarge in the capital to face newboys Flame Lily with much of the attention being focused on their youthful coach Mafu, amid string indications from the Highlanders corridors that the gaffer was set to be axed in the event of another defeat.
Highlanders have already lost three times in seven matches and Mafu’s future hinged on the Bulawayo giants winning at all costs to ensure the coach stays within the minimum 18 points target set for him in the club’s first 10 games of the season.
Mafu was on 10 points ahead of yesterday’s match and his charges responded to the pressure heaped on their coach by turning on their finest show to date to dazzle Nesbert “Yabo’’ Saruchera’s men in their backyard.
A clause in Mafu’s contract with Bosso states that the coach has to garner at least 18 points out of a possible 30 from the first 10 league games and although he declined to discuss much on the section of the agreement Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede virtually confirmed the arrangement to The Chronicle on Tuesday.
But on a fine day in the office for Bosso, all their strikers finally broke their ducks and opened their Premiership accounts scoring a goal apiece.
Yet Highlanders, who until yesterday had only managed three goals in seven games, had to wait until the 23rd minute to find their breakthrough at Lafarge.
Zimbabwe youth international Thomas Chideu who showed some flashes of brilliance thrust Highlanders into the lead after combining well with Obadiah Tarumbwa.
Chideu got the better of Edwin Madhanga after a through ball from Tarumbwa, got past Ralph Kawondera and then released a blistering low drive on the run that beat Flame Lily goalkeeper Lloyd Majaira.
Flame Lily had their fair share of chances and should have taken the lead when the seemingly ageless Webster Muronda worked his way past several Highlanders players before hitting the side nets in the 18th minute.
Although Bosso led at the break it was Flame Lily who returned for the second half a more determined side but just as they sought an equaliser they were punished further nine minutes after resumption.
Mafu was forced into an injury-inspired substitution bringing on Gabriel Nyoni for the injured Nqobizitha Masuku in the 54th minute.
Nyoni made maximum use of the chance he was given as he was full of running and made an immediate impact after he scored with only his second touch of the afternoon.
Once again it was the more experienced Tarumbwa who was at the hub of the move, sending Nyoni clear on goal.
Tarumbwa who has previously seen professional duty in Cyprus then ensured his name would also be on the score sheet when grabbed Highlanders’ third in the 81st minute.
The former Bantu Rovers man found his way past four Flame Lily markers as he charged towards goal.
Tarumbwa was not to be out done as he showed a moment of brilliance beating four defenders on his way to score in the 81 minutes.
Flame Lily, however, had their chances to at least fight back but they found Bosso goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda in fine form with the former Zimbabwe goalminder repelling everything that the prisons men threw at him.
Sibanda had to make several point blank saves including twice denying Moses Demera and McMillan Chigoro. Despite his team’s biggest win of the season so far, Mafu delegated the post match interview duties to his assistant Mandla Mopfu.
An excited Mpofu acknowledged that yesterday’s win had come as a huge relief for them especially in view of their defeat to CAPS United at Barbourfelds last Sunday.
“We are very happy with the result as the boys came with a good attitude and I am happy for that.
“We were under pressure to win the match and you could see that from the first minute when we had a shot on target we were on top of the situation. “We have not played well and we are now motivated enough to face the next challenges and for the strikers I believe good things are now going to come.
“With this result I am sure we can always get better,” said Mpofu.
Flame Lily coach Saruchera who had taunted Bosso before the match felt they gave their opponents too much room especially at the back and were punished for that.
“We gave them too much room at the back and that saw us get punished. We created a lot of chances which we failed to bury but we are going back and prepare for the next game. “We would like to work with the defence and see that they improve in the next game,” said Saruchera.
Highlanders will now look to build on yesterday’s win when they take on Harare City at Barbourfields on Sunday and ensure they stay of execution granted on Mafu was not just a flash in the pan.
Flame Lily: L. Majaira, G. Phiri, S. Jimu, E. Madhanga, R. Kawondera, P. Chidawaya (B. Musaka 80 mins), T. Huwa, M. Demera, F. Mugumwa (P. Chinyama 57mins), M. Chigora, W.Muronda
Highlanders: A Sibanda, W. Chingodza, S. Munawa, R. Kutsanzira, T. Chideu (W. Ndiweni 78 mins), O. Tarumbwa (K Nadolo 86 mins), B. Kangwa, N. Masuku (G. Nyoni), F. Chindungwe, T. Ngulube, E. Mudzingwa.