UNDERFIRE Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigowe was forced to defend his position after yet another defeat, this time against a free-flowing Highlanders side in the final of the Independence Trophy at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Chigowe came into the match under increasing pressure having lost two of the three league matches played so far.
And the disjointed performance of his team, especially in the first half, will not get him many sympathisers. To his credit though, his boys greatly improved in the second half, and were just unlucky not to score a goal.
In a match that his team missed a penalty, with Jimmy Tigere hitting the cross bar from 12 yards, and Ngandu Mangala twice hitting the foot of the post, the final result looks harsh on Chigowe.
“The positives I picked from this match is that we are creating chances and also that we used some youngsters who showed what they can do, but obviously we need to sit down and look at ourselves in the mirror and see what really is going on and how best we can overcome this challenge we are facing,” the Dynamos coach said.
“But, of course, the pressure (on my job) is not coming from within, it’s being manufactured from outside.”
Dynamos return to league action on Monday with a tricky match against Herentals, which has turned into a must-win to release some pressure.
“We have got to win our matches. In football, the answer to all the problems is to win matches, and that is what we have to do going forward,” Chigowe said.
But credit also goes to Highlanders, who produced their best performance of the season so far.
Their coach, Madinda Ndlovu, was also under pressure, coming into the match having failed to win the last three games.
The performance gives him huge confidence going forward, with the big game against Triangle at the weekend suddenly looking winnable.
Bukhosi Sibanda, making his first start since joining Highlanders at the start of the season, gave his side a 49th minute lead, rifling into the top left corner from outside the box.
His striking partner Tinashe Makanda sealed the win with a snap shot inside the box after some good work by Ray Lunga.
Ndlovu was left purring by his side’s passing display, which he compared to Barcelona’s famous tiki-taka.
“We dominated the game, especially in the first half. It was all Highlanders. We controlled the game the way we wanted to, but sometimes we over-did it because we didn’t have the penetrative passes. The boys were a bit cautious initially. Overall, I think we played the ball around very well,” Ndlovu said.
“We had a lot of creativity today, and when you look at Ray Lunga on the right, he caused havoc in Dynamos’ half and (Godfrey) Makaruse on the left. Bukhosi also gave us good shape and Makanda came to the party in the second half. I’m happy that the boys won it for their own motivation.
“But this is an occasional game, I would want to look at the bigger picture, which is the league. We still have to work hard and try to make sure that the players enjoy this type of football that they played today. That is our trademark type of football, the passing game and if they can be fit to the levels that we want them to be, then we can enjoy more of what we saw today.”
The Bulawayo side settled into the match first, and looked comfortable on the ball.
Their quick passing game excited their fans, but did not trouble Dynamos goalkeeper Simba Chinani early on.
Meanwhile, Dynamos players were struggling to string together four passes.
Without skipper Edward Sadomba, who was scrapped off the team sheet minutes before kick off because of confusion over the red card he picked in the team’s last league match, the young squad looked lost.
They did, however, fashion the first chance of the game after 21 minutes.
A long ball dropped behind the Highlanders defenders, and Tawanda Macheke was quickest to it, but his rising shot was blocked by a retreating Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
Mangala hit the foot of the post from the rebound.
But Ndlovu’s men continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, despite over-doing it at times.
On 29 minutes, they opened the Dynamos defence, but then tried to walk the ball into the net.
The final pass fell to Sibanda, whose tame shot was parried around the post by Chinani.
Adrian Silla then tested Chinani from range, who did well to collect the shot to close the goalless first half.
The pattern continued in the second stanza of the match with Bosso bossing the early proceedings and they made their first chance count just four minutes in.
A corner kick was not cleared properly, with the ball falling invitingly for the lurking Sibanda, who made no mistake.
Inevitably, Dynamos threw men forward as they looked to respond and twice nearly snatched an equaliser before the hour mark.
Macheke’s looping header almost caught Sibanda, who had rushed off his line, drifting just wide.
Mangala came even closer, his shot from inside the box again hitting the bottom of the post.
Dynamos were now in total control, but luck continued to elude them and when Tigere hit the crossbar from the penalty spot in the 68th minute, their race seemed run.
They were made to rue the missed opportunity when former Dynamos winger Cleopas Kapupurika picked Makanda with a pass from inside the box, who scored via the upright post.
The game was effectively over and Highlanders sucked the spirit off their opponents by playing keep ball.
Dynamos fans quietly trickled out of the giant stadium pondering the extent of the humiliation.
Dynamos: S Chinani, A Maliselo, T Muringai, J Tigere, M Mawadza, M Chodeva (T Chisi, 46’), G Mukambi, E Mhungu (N Katawa, 46’), J Nyateme (K Dhemere, 60’), S Panashe, N Mangala, T Macheke
Highlanders: A Sibanda, T Ndlovu, P Muduhwa, M Ndlovu (A Mbeba, 76’), A Silla, R Lunga, N Masuku, G Makaruse (C Kapupurika, 57’), B Ncube, T Makanda. B Sibanda (D Mhindirira, 76’)