HIGHLANDERS . . . . . . . . . (0) 1
CHICKEN INN . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Highlanders won 4-2 on penalties
Highlanders football club have maintained their dominance over rival, Chicken Inn after eliminating the league Champions in the ZNA Commanders’ Charities quarterfinal match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday. Chicken Inn last year fell prey to Bosso in the NetOne Easycall Cup final played at the same venue.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda saved two spot-kicks to help his side beat league champions Chicken Inn in a penalty shoot-out after the two sides played out a stalemate in regulation time of their ZNA Commanders’ Charities quarterfinal match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
The Gamecocks scored through Obadiah Tarumbwa, with his goal just beating the referee’s halftime whistle, while Bosso equalised through a gem of a strike inside the penalty box from Bruce Kangwa 15 minutes from full time.
Sibanda then turned the hero for Bosso, saving Chicken Inn’s first penalty taken by Guide Goddard.
He also denied Physwell Madhazi’s, with Highlanders’ Kangwa, Knox Mutizwa, Rahman Kutsanzira and Erick Mudzingwa converting their penalties, while Chicken Inn got theirs through substitute Michelle Katsvairo and Brian Juru.
While Bosso will be pleased with their progress, it probably is the performance that mattered much more than the outcome, as they fine-tune themselves for the season.
Coach Elroy Akbay was not happy with his boys’ performance in the first half.
“We did not play well in the first half, but we did better in the other half,” he said.
“The boys are getting my style of play a little bit. I want more of the possession-based kind of play. We are still looking at how we want to play when the league starts, but every win is good. The guys want to win and that is what is important.”
The Dutchman declined to comment on the differences between his lieutenants Amini Soma-Phiri and goalkeepers’ coach/technical advisor Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu.
Akbay paraded mostly players from last season except former Northern Region Division One side ZRP FC’s Kasimero Chimbadzwa, who was replaced by Ralph Matema in the 66th minute.
Young Prince Dube, promoted from the juniors, also came in for Gabriel Nyoni seven minutes before the final whistle.
Akbay said the young players, who have been roped into the senior team, will have their time.
Chicken Inn were without key players goalkeeper, Elvis Chipezeze, Danny Phiri, Lawrence Mhlanga, Tafadzwa Kutinyu and Edmore Chirambadare, whom assistant coach, Prince Matore said were being rested after their participation at the African Nations Championship tournament in Rwanda in January.
Still, Chicken Inn played like the champions they are and were more composed than Highlanders, but lacked the killer instinct upfront, while Bosso also wasted a number of chances.
“The boys played very well. Penalty kicks are anyone’s take. I did not play a second string side. We have 28 players. So far so good and I am happy with the preparations for the 2016 season,” Matore said.