By Ricky Zililo
Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda made some stunning first half saves that earned his side a valuable point against a CAPS United side that enjoyed dominance at Barbourfields yesterday. The Harare giants should have wrapped up the game in the first half, but Sibanda, who a fortnight ago had a nightmarish performance between the sticks against ZPC Kariba, produced a 46th minute save to deny ex-Highlanders striker Milton Ncube a goal.
Sibanda dived to his right to push the ball out for a corner, denying Ncube a tap in off a Valentine Musarurwa’s cross from the right, as CAPS United finished the first half strongly.
Joel Ngodzo, Dominic Mukandi and Kudzai Nyamupfukudza dictated the pace in central midfield, as Bosso’s midfielders were virtually AWOL throughout the match.
However, CAPS United’s dominance only manifested following a second minute scare in which they could have gone behind had Brian Banda been decisive and went for goal instead of passing the ball wide.
Ozias Zibande brought the best of saves from CAPS United goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba in the 19th minute after connecting Adrian Silla’s cross from the right with a flashing header.
Bosso were also guilty of giving away free kicks in dangerous areas and were lucky that the Harare visitors failed to punish them.
Simba Nhivi wasted the Green Machine’s best chance of the day in the 39th minute when he found himself with acres of space inside the box after collecting a pass from Ngodzo. Keeper Sibanda dashed off his line to narrow the angle, forcing the striker to blast his effort over the bar.
The second half saw Highlanders coming back a more determined side and they could have caught the Green Machine off guard in the 52nd minute when Gabriel Nyoni broke the visitors’ defence only to take a weak shot at Chigumba.
Two minutes later, Zibande missed the best chance of the day, heading a pin-point McClive Phiri cross wide, with the goal yawning after keeper Chigumba was taken out of action by the flight of the ball.
Phiri, arguably the best Highlanders’ player yesterday, had done well to start a move from the right side of Bosso’s defence, overlapping and sending in his trademark brilliant cross that Zibande wasted.
In the 66th minute Ngodzo was lucky to escape with a yellow card for his reaction to Silla.
It was Highlanders who finished the game strongly, with Peter Muduhwa fluffing a chance to give his side a smash and grab victory with a weak shot at goal when facing the keeper in injury time.
Lloyd Chitembwe, CAPS United’s coach, was happy with his team’s performance.
“To the neutrals both teams gave their all and you can’t fault any players. We anticipated that we were never going to have so many chances, but I’m equally satisfied with the performance of my boys and credit goes to Madinda for assembling such a fighting squad,” said Chitembwe.
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, McClive Phiri, Honest Moyo, Charlton Siamalonga, Peter Muduhwa, Adrian Silla, Ben Musaka, Brian Banda, Ozias Zibande, Gabriel Nyoni, Godfrey Makaruse (Newman Sianchali, 68th minute)
CAPS United: Prosper Chigumba, Valentine Musarurwa, Justice Jangano, Carlton Munzabwa, Goodwin Goriyati, Dominic Mukandi, Kudzai Nyamupfukudza, Joel Ngodzo, Milton Ncube (Brian Muzondiwa, 83rd minute), John Zhuwawu (Wisdom Mutasa, 92nd minute), Simbal Nhivi
Highlanders … … … … … … … … … . 0
CAPS United … … … … … … … … … 0