Missed opportunities in Bosso, Tenax draw Highlanders chairman still has faith in Mandla Mpofu

The Chronicle

Ray Bande in MUTARE
Tenax  0 – 0 Highlanders

IT was a tale of missed scoring opportunities on both ends of the pitch from the onset to the final whistle of yesterday’s Castle Lager Premiership football encounter pitting struggling Bulawayo giants Highlanders and a seemingly resurgent Tenax at Sakubva in Mutare.

But even with that morale-sapping stalemate, Highlanders’ leadership somehow still see value in under fire coach Mandla Mpofu.

Perhaps, for many neutrals, this is the mark of how the mighty have fallen.

After yesterday’s match, their chairman Johnfat Sibanda said the reason they still have faith in Mpofu as their head coach is that they have hope results will soon come their way.

“This is a game of football and such results are normal.

Yes, we would have loved to get maximum points but it is never easy when playing away from home.

The reason we still have him (Mpofu) as our coach is that we still have faith in him.

We still believe there is still time for him to start collecting maximum points. We will continue rallying behind the boys and the coach.

We have no doubt that they will get things right soon,” said Sibanda.

Mpofu has been a subject of ridicule among the Highlanders faithful in recent weeks after a string of poor results, with the acrimony reaching fever pitch in the previous round of league matches when the yesteryear giants fell 2-0 against Bulawayo City.

In yesterday’s encounter, both teams displayed an entertaining passing game but somehow, on numerous occasions, the visitors and the hosts lacked the cutting edge in front of goal.

Three minutes into the match, unmarked yet flat-footed Virimai Mukudo could have propelled Tenax into the lead after being set up by stocky and forcefully striker Malvern Dumbura but the former placed his effort wide of target from the edge of the box.

In the 13th minute, the visitors breached the Tenax defence after a well-positioned Bukhosi Sibanda had gotten to the end of fellow midfielder Divine Mhindirira’s cross.

Sibanda fired home a hard-and-low shot that was met with equal artistry by Tenax goalkeeper Philip Makumi.

Of the two teams, it was Tenax who would probably feel the pain of a missed opportunity to grab maximum points more than their opponents as the correctional services outfit, after a flurry of failed clear-cut scoring opportunities, also had a second-half penalty saved.

Marondera referee Edward Mucharambei pointed to the spot with only two minutes after the breather when Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa clearly handled the ball inside the box while trying to make a clearance.

And up stepped Takunda Mapara whose weak effort was parried to safety by Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.

When almost everyone thought the first goal of the match was finally coming, Bosso striker Stanley Ngala, with only the goalkeeper to beat, blasted his effort way wide of target in the 71st minute.

In post-match interviews, Highlanders coach Mpofu said: “I would have wanted the team to get maximum points but we failed.

The draw itself was not easy. Both Manica Diamonds and Tenax have created a fortress at Sakubva. It is not easy for any team in the league to come and get maximum points here at Sakubva.

Therefore, I am happy with how my boys played and I just hope we will build on that draw and get maximum points in our next match, moreso as we are coming from a disappointing defeat against Bulawayo City.”

His Tenax counterpart Shadreck Mugurasave bemoaned the wasted scoring opportunities.

“We played well for the greater part of the game.

I was happy with the performance and the only challenge was that we failed to convert.

We managed to create a lot of scoring opportunities but somehow we failed to score.

We are happy that we did not lose the match.

We now need to go back to training and focus on our next match with the hope that we will get goals, unlike what we did today,” said Mugurasave.

Tenax:Philip Makumi; Tafadzwa Zhakata; Joseph Jambo; Jack Chakuamba; Dexter Marara; Carlos Musimwa; Edson Gavara; Virimayi Mukudo; Malvern Dumbura (Joel Munsaka, 54th minute); Aristotle Munyamba (Theophilus Musiteyi, 74th minute): Takunda Mapara
Highlanders:Ariel Sibanda; Andrew Tandi; Rahman Kutsanzira; Devine Mhindirira; Bukhosi Sibanda (Washigton Navaya, 52nd minute); Nqobizitha Masuku; Andrew Mbera; Adrian Silla (Muziwakhe Dhlamini. 74th minute); Peter Muduhwa; Stanely Ngala; Pritchard Mpelele

Article Source: The Chronicle

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