Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
SUBSTITUTE Tafadzwa Chitukutuku scored a quick-fire injury-time brace to rescue a point for spirited Herentals in their gripping Castle Lager Premiership soccer duel against Yadah at Rufaro yesterday.
Up until the first minute of the three added time, Yadah had this local derby under control as they were 2-0 to the good courtesy of Simbarashe Sithole and Willard Kalongonda’s goals earlier in either halves.
But Chitukutuku, returning from a long injury lay-off, took matters into his own hands, first poking home from close-range after Yadah defenders failed to clear their lines following a well-taken corner kick by Innocent Benza.
The duo combined again, a minute later, as Benza, who has now provided all assists in Herentals’ last three goals, lofted the ball onto the path of Chitukutuku who beat a drawn-out Yadah goalkeeper Stephen Chimusoro to complete his team’s dramatic comeback.
Both teams took their point-tallies to 26 and retained their positions on the log with Herentals on 10th place, one rung above Yadah due to a superior goal difference.
The Herentals bench celebrated the draw like a win and their elated coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva said indeed the draw felt like a victory considering it had to come at a time when he had virtually accepted his team’s fate.
“Obviously the draw felt like a win at the end of the day considering that the game seemed lost up until the last moment and magic from my players.
“I kept on believing and crucially my players also refused to throw in the towel. They showed a lot of character and I would like to give it to them.
“Chitukutuku (Tafadzwa) is a very good player but I didn’t imagine he would rescue us the way he did especially considering that he is coming from injury.
“Innocent Benza also did well setting up Chitukutuku for the goals. It shows that he is a good player and to realise that he has been dishing these assists makes me feel confident to always consider throwing him into the thick of things always.
“It’s his magic that has been carrying most of our days.
“But, overall, the team did well and I would like to salute the lads for the never-say-die spirit they displayed all afternoon. It’s not that easy to trail by two goals with just three minutes of injury time remaining and still being able to crawl back and claim a point. It takes men of character to do that,” Mutiwekuziva said.
His opposite number Thomas Ruzive was disappointed by the lack of concentration on the part of his players especially defence.
“I am very disappointed by how we applied ourselves especially towards the end,” said Ruzive.
“I think my defenders went to sleep and lost concentration resulting in them conceding those two quick goals.
“We were supposed to grab all the three points out of this one but such is football.
We also missed a lot of clear-cut chances otherwise we should have wrapped up the match well before we conceded those two goals. But football is like that, we have to work on frailties like these going forward,” he said.