An out of sorts Highlanders had first assistant referee Varaidzo Mushonga to thank for walking out of Sakubva with a point to show after a lacklustre display in a Castle Lager Premiership encounter against Mutare City Rovers yesterday.
The Rusape-based female assistant referee made a number of highly questionable decisions against the home team epitomised by a 75th minute monumental blunder when she denied Rovers a clear goal after erroneously adjudging scorer Stephen Sibanda offside.
Such was the pathetic show by Bosso at Sakubva yesterday that even their expatriate coach Errol Akbay admitted that his side had turned on a poor show, which he reckoned was more of a mental problem.
“I am not happy at all with the way we played today. It was not good at all. The problem was more of mental. We were second on the ball from the start and this is not what we want. It was a very bad game for us,’ said Akbay.
For the sizeable crowd that thronged Sakubva, it was not only the white and red stripe that was unfamiliar about the Bulawayo giants but even their performance on the field of play was also a far cry from the feared outfit they are known to be.
Highlanders played second fiddle to the struggling Mutare municipality team from the onset of a dull encounter in which the home team enjoyed the lion’s share of ball possession as well as shots at goal.
Mutare City Rovers, whose low conversion rate has been the clubs’ Achilles Heel, might look back and rue the numerous missed clear cut scoring chances.
The hosts were on the offensive early when new signing Fredrick Muza got to the end of a neat pass from Stephen Sibanda but failed to convert with only Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda to beat.
Bosso managed to create a few chances with Gabriel Nyoni, who was returning from a lengthy lay off owing to injury, making some exciting off the ball running while causing anxious moments for the hosts.
With a little bit more precision, a well positioned Nyoni could have broken the deadlock but tapped the ball inches wide off target after receiving a fine cross from Prince Dube.
Highlanders once again failed to make the most of a scoring opportunity in the 59th minute when an unmarked Simon Munawa blasted over from the edge of the box.
However, the major talking point of the match arrived in the 75th minute when Sibanda rose highest to hit the nets with a spectacular header and the home fans were up in celebration.
But the joy was cut short as Mushonga raised her flag for a diabolical offside call.
Given that Sibanda was in the midst of a cluster of Bosso defenders when hard-working Chasten Chandongonda crossed the ball, Mushonga’s decision left the hosts feeling hard done by.
Mutare City Rovers gaffer Taku Shariwa, who refuses to point a finger at match officials in most post match interviews, could not hide his disapproval for Mushonga’s offside call.
“I have always never wanted to comment about these referees even when I feel hard done. They are better placed to talk about rules of the game but honestly speaking that was a clear goal and unfortunately those who learnt the laws of the game thought otherwise,’ said Shariwa.
The former Hartley Academy coach bemoaned his team’s failure to get maximum points at home.
“It is unfortunate that we could not get maximum points while playing at home once again. It is every coach’ dream that you make your home ground your team’s favourite hunting ground. However, I am generally happy with the performance and I hope we will get it right in our next home match,” said Shariwa.
Akbay, who looks down upon teams of Mutare City Rovers’ calibre, said they are now focusing on their next match against CAPS United with the hope of snatching maximum points.
“It has been a bad game for us because if we are playing against such teams we should win by 6-0, 5-0 margins. These are the kind of teams we are supposed to beat home and away. We are now focusing on our next match against CAPS United with the hope of getting maximum points,” said Akbay.