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Brito parks the bus

by Staff reporter
05 Jun 2023 at 06:43hrs | Views
Highlanders 1-0 Bulawayo Chiefs
HIGHLANDERS Football Club heaved a huge sigh of relief as they ended a five-match winless run, thanks to a 20th minute headed goal by central defender Mbongeni Ndlovu.

Never mind that Highlanders' performance was lacklustre as they sat behind the ball with Bulawayo Chiefs enjoying much possession, Bosso tightly held on to the goal as they broke their opponents' attacks.

Highlanders' victory took them to the summit, with 22 points from 12 games, a point above second-placed Chicken Inn.

Bosso might see themselves being second should Ngezi Platinum Stars beat Yadah at the National Sports stadium this afternoon.

Bulawayo Chiefs' dominance came to naught as Highlanders went away with derby bragging rights, while The Ninjas' seven-match unbeaten run came to a halt.

Bulawayo Chiefs' first chance fell in the seventh minute when Obriel Chirinda was released on the right before he found Farau Matare who controlled the ball before firing over the bar.

Highlanders' game plan was simple; to let Bulawayo Chiefs dominate ball possession and wait to catch them on quick attacks.

Bulawayo Chiefs kept pressing, but in one of the counter attacks, Highlanders won a corner kick that their opponents poorly cleared and the ball fell to Bosso's defensive midfielder Darlington Mukuli who released the ball to Peter Muduhwa on the left side.

The overlapping Muduhwa then sent in a perfect cross that his central defence partner Ndlovu connected with a header that beat Bulawayo Chiefs goalkeeper Khulekani Dube in the 20th minute.

An unlikely scorer for Highlanders, Ndlovu celebrated wildly, taking his coach's spectacles, with the Bosso gaffer Baltemar Brito visibly relieved that his side surged ahead.

Bulawayo Chiefs tried to open up Highlanders through the midfield where they had veteran Danny

"Deco" Phiri and Mthokozisi Msebe pulling strings in central midfield but Bosso were watertight, laying a brilliant defence block.

The second-half saw Bulawayo Chiefs continue with their ball dominance as Bosso laid back, looking to catch their opponents on breaks.

At the hour-mark, Highlanders' leftback Archiford Faira attacked through the centre and instead of shooting at goal, he played the ball to McKinnon Mushore on the left side. Mushore's delivery was timely intercepted by Bulawayo Chiefs captain Marlvin Mkolo.

In the 66th minute, Bosso should have doubled their lead when Andrew Mbeba delivered a beautiful cross from the right that beat Dube Bulawayo Chiefs defenders, only for attacking midfielder Elshamar Farasi to shoot over the bar less than two metres from an empty goal.

In the 78th minute, Highlanders' goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda produced a superb save to deny Msebe a close-range equaliser.

Ten minutes later, Mbeba set through Washington Navaya but the striker hit straight at Dube.

Highlanders Coach Brito

At the stroke of full time, Bulawayo Chiefs won a freekick at a dangerous area after Highlanders' Brighton Manhire brought down Nixon Gama.

Msebe's attempt from the dead ball deflected off the wall for a corner.
Brito was happy with the three points.

"We parked the bus. But we parked it first today and maybe tomorrow the bus can move to the second. We're travelling. We're enjoying," said Brito.

Lizwe Sweswe, Bulawayo Chiefs coach described the match as tough and felt that lack of communication by his defenders blessed Highlanders the winning goal.

"It's all about the application of the players. In the second-half we tried to change things but we failed to get a goal.

"I think defeat sometimes is good as it makes you go and work hard. We will bounce back," said Sweswe.

Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Andrew Mbeba, Archiford Faira, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Peter Muduhwa, Brighton Manhire, Ray Lunga (Stanley Ngala, 68th minute), Darlington Mukuli, Calvin Chigonero (Washington Navaya, 81st minute), Elshamar Farasi (Prince Ndhlovu, 81st minute), McKinnon Mushore (Mason Mushore, 85th minute)

Bulawayo Chiefs: Khulekani Dube, Nixon Gama, Mthokozisi Msebe, Ayanda Ncube (Mandla Gasela, 81st minute), William Stima, Obriel Chirinda (Kuda Musharu, 69th minute), Marlvin Mkolo, Brian Rusinga, Danny Phiri, Felix Moyo (Billy Veremu, 69th minute), Farau Matare

Source - The Chronicle