By Bonweyinkosi Sithole
@Babourfields Stadium in Bulawayo
Highlanders 2 (Godfrey Makaruse 36’, Gabriel 50’)
Black Rhinos 1 (Lot Chiunga 48’)
Yellow cards (Tendai Ndlovu) (Effort Kopeni, Lot Chiunga)
Highlanders Football Club joined city rivals Chicken Inn and Bulawayo City as they recorded their first win in the season opener of the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League on Sunday.
A 36th minute header by winger Godfrey Makaruse and a 50th minute strike from the speedy winger Gabriel Nyoni were enough to de-horn the visiting Black Rhinos side and give Bosso the much needed three points.
Highlanders launched an attack through a long ball by defender Peter Muduhwa who found Nigel Makumbe on the left, Makumbe waved his way past Rhinos defenders and put up a good chip across the goal which found the lurking Godfrey Makaruse who made no mistake this time around and headed the ball into the back of the nets for Bosso to take the lead.
Although Highlanders bagged their first three points it was not a walk in the park. Black Rhinos equalized three minutes into the second half through their skipper Lot Chiunga after he was let to execute a free header to beat Ariel Sibanda.
Adrian Silla was charged for bringing down King Utete on the edge of the box and the referee Philani Ncube gave the visitors a free kick. Farai Banda stepped up with his left foot and sent in an inviting cross that found an unmarked Lot Chiunga who did not dissapoint and beat Ariel to bring Rhinos back into the game.
In the 48th minute Gabriel Nyoni put Bosso back in the lead after McClive Phiri sent in a cross that found Makumbe who then laid the ball for the oncoming Gabriel Nyoni.
Highlanders Technical Manager, Madinda Ndlovu was happy and acknowledged that Black Rhinos did their homework (research) as they gave them a run for their three points.
“I am happy, just like the supporters are, but l am not going celebrate like the supporters because looking at the game the way we started, Rhinos had done their homework, Rhinos are a formidable team they were very tricky customers to us, they are organized. Out of all the games we have played this was the most difficult one that we have played” said Ndlovu.
Black Rhinos coach Hebert Maruwa said it was always going to be difficult playing Highlanders in front of their fans although he was quite happy with the way his boys did their job especially in the second half. Overall he gave credit to Highlanders as he said they lost to a good team.
Highlanders showed their intentions in the first minutes of play as Nigel Mukumbe’s free kick which was tipped over the cross bar by Black Rhinos goal minder Hebert Rusawo resulting in the first corner kick of the game.
Highlanders were caught flat footed in the 19th minute but Black Rhinos striker Wellington Taderera failed to capitalize on an Adrian Silla mistake as he sent his effort straight into the safe hands of Ariel Sibanda.
In the 27th minute Taderera was back asking questions and could have put Rhinos in the lead as he came face to face with Ariel Sibanda after an Allan Gahadzikwa shot deflected off defender Tendai Ndlovu. Taderera’s effort could not trouble Sibanda as it rose up and wide to the stands.
McClive Phiri was moved up front to help Sianchali as Bukhosi Ncube came in for the goal scorer Godfrey Makaruse. The substitution could have yielded results given time as Phiri showed his worth by whipping in brilliant crosses.
Highlanders missed the services of defensive link man Ben Munsaka who was out of action due to issues to do with his International clearance.
Meanwhile CAPS UNITED played to a goalless draw with Harare City at the National Sports Stadium. SHABANIE MINE kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win over triangle through a goal by David Temwanjira in the 55th minute.
Team Line ups
Highlanders FC Ariel Sibanda, Honest Moyo(c), McClive Phiri, Adrian Silla, Brian Banda ( Chitambwe Munyaradzi 86th), Newman Sianchali, Makaruse Godfrey ( Bukhosi Ncube 68th), Ndlovu Tendai, Muduhwa Peter, Nyoni Gabriel, Makumbe Nigel( Zibande Ozias 79th)
Black Rhinos FC Rusawo Hebert, Sibanda Tapiwa, Banda Farai, Homora Bruce, Kopani Effort, Mudadi Donald, Gahadzikwa Allan( Wonder Kapinda 54th), Mambare Masimba, Utete King( Mekiwa Malvern 54th) , Taderera Wellington( Tafadzwa Jaravani 64th) Chiunga Lot.