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by Staff reporter
27 Sep 2022 at 05:51hrs | Views
THERE are two things that have let down Highlanders in the 2021/ 2022 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League campaign — poor conversion rate and drawing matches that they should have won.

A poor start to the campaign saw the Bulawayo giants collecting 23 points in 17 first-half matches and derailed their championship hopes.

The unconvincing show first-half of the season led to Bosso executive relieving Mandla Mpofu-led technical team before bringing Brazil-born Portuguese national Baltemar Brito who has brought a positive influence to the squad.

When Brito took charge of Bosso they were on position 10 with 23 points.
In the 11 games that Brito has been in charge, only champions and table-toppers FC Platinum have managed to amass more points than Bosso.

The Zvishavane side who are on track for a fourth-consecutive title, needing just nine points from six games to claim the title with an unassailable 70 points, have collected 27 points in the last 11 league outings.

Amahlonyama, under Brito, have been steadily moving up the ladder to position four, managing 22 points in the 11 second-half of the season games.

Brito has won six games, played to four draws and lost once — 2-1 away at Whawha. At the end of the first round, Highlanders had five wins, eight draws and three defeats.

Some of the draws that Highlanders will look back and blame themselves for falling off title contention include the 2-2 result at home to Cranborne Bullets, 0-0 at Barbourfields against relegation threatened Tenax and being held 0-0 home by Ngezi Platinum Stars at the beginning of the season.

Baltemar Brito

Bosso also failed to hold on to their leads when they drew by identical 1-1 scorelines against Herentals and most recently, the weekend away trip at Cranborne Bullets. Highlanders have drawn 12 times this season, the same as Harare City and Manica Diamonds. Only Black Rhinos, with 13 draws have been involved in more stalemates.

Besides feeling hard done by referee Lawrence Zimhondi who turned down a penalty appeal after a Cranborne player had handled in the box, Highlanders were their own worst enemies as they missed more than four clear-cut scoring chances.

The chief culprit was striker Stanley Ngala who failed to summon his experience at least twice as he directed his efforts wide with the goal yawning for mercy having been set by Ray Lunga and Pritchard Mphelele.

Collecting maximum points at Cranborne would have seen Highlanders at least revising their target and maybe challenge for a top two finish as they would have moved at least two points adrift of Harare giants Dynamos who were stunned to a 1-0 defeat by Ngezi.

DeMbare, who have only managed 16 points in the last 11 games slipped to third on the table with a total of 50 points. Dynamos swapped places with Chicken Inn who edged Whawha 1-0.

Just like Dynamos, Chicken Inn have secured 16 points in the second-half of the season and it will be a miracle for the two sides to spring a shocker and snatch the title from the hands of FC Platinum.

Fifth on the table Ngezi have also done remarkably well since parting ways with the Benjani Mwaruwari-led technical team, with stand-in coach Takesure Chiragwi getting 13 points from six games. In five other second-half of the season games, Ngezi had just managed five points. In total, Ngezi have been the fifth best team in the second half managing a total of 18 points.

Cranborne and Yadah are joint third best team in the second-half of the season with 19 points from 11 games. In the first-half, Cranborne who are on position 12 managed to collect 16 points from 17 outings. Yadah, a place above Cranborne with who they are tied with on 35 points had also managed to accumulate 16 points in the first-half.

In the 14-point accumulated bracket from the second-half are Bulawayo Chiefs who edged Manica Diamonds 1-0 courtesy of an Obriel Chirinda goal, Triangle who won by a similar scoreline against Herentals, ZPC Kariba who drew 1-1 with Black Rhinos and caps United who were stunned 1-0 by Yadah.

PSL Matchday 28 results
Saturday: ZPC Kariba 1-1 Black Rhinos, Cranborne Bullets 1-1 Highlanders, FC Platinum 1-0 Bulawayo City, Yadah 1-0 Caps United, Chicken Inn 1-0 Whawha, Tenax CS FC 0-0 Harare City
Sunday: Dynamos 0-1 Ngezi Platinum Stars, Bulawayo Chiefs 1-0 Manica Diamonds, Triangle United 1-0 Herentals

Source - The Chronicle