By Ray Bande
Rusape — Chiredzi-based referee Jimmy Mukwanda was the main reason Mutare City Rovers failed to collect maximum points and settled for a draw as he played the 12th man’s role for Herentals in an otherwise entertaining Castle Lager Premiership soccer encounter at Vengere yesterday.
Mukwanda made several highly questionable decisions against the hosts and a dubious penalty earned the visitors a point away from home.
Neutrals could easily feel for Mutare City Rovers coach Joseph “Shabba” Takaringofa who expressed reservations about the performance of the referee in a post-match interview.
“I really do not want to talk about the performance of the referee but I feel there are some decisions that were highly questionable. I did not see why Herentals were awarded a penalty but these are things that I would not want to talk about because we end up in trouble. I am happy with the way my boys played. They did quite well even under difficult circumstances,” Takaringofa said.
The match started with the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of ball possession and they were the first to create scoring chances but somehow lacked the cutting edge in front of goal.
Mutare City Rovers striker Brian Chinhoyi then propelled his team into the lead 14 minutes into the match after he got to the end of a through pass and tapped the ball home from close range.
Herentals had referee Mukwanda to thank when they restored parity nine minutes later after the Chiredzi-based match official awarded them a penalty out of virtually nothing.
In that incident, Mutare City Rovers defender Gift Jimu was erroneously adjudged to have hacked down a diving Aaron Chiwandamidzi inside the box.
And up stepped Blessing Maunganidze who made no mistake as he sent veteran goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube the wrong direction.
The hosts could have surged ahead three minutes after the break when Washington Pakamisa header off Piniel Gumbo’s corner went inches wide of the target with Herentals goalkeeper Frank Kuchineyi beaten.
But the lethargic Muzhara failed to convert as Herentals’ player Maunganidze lurched onto the ball before he could score. Herentals’ lack of precision in front of goal was once again exposed in the 78th minute when striker Chiwandamidzi received a pass in a counter attack but somehow failed to beat the Mutare City Rovers goalkeeper when it looked easier to score than to miss.
Herentals coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziwa praised Mutare City Rovers for giving them a good run for their money.
“I think Mutare City Rovers played very well. We came here expecting that. They are a good side and they did well but I think we were the better team given that we got a point away from home.