BULAWAYO-HIGHLANDERS staged a dramatic comeback to keep their Chibuku Super Cup dream alive when they beat Yadah 2-1 to progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
The win came after two successive away league defeats that had left the Bulawayo giants desperate.
With Yadah having opened the scoring three minutes after the break through Simbarashe Sithole following a goalless first half, Highlanders equalised in the 72nd minute through an unlikely source in left-back Mbongeni Ndlovu.
With the match seemingly headed for the dreaded penalty shoot-out, substitute Newman Sianchali blasted the ball past goalkeeper Steven Chimusoro to give Highlanders the winner four minutes before the final whistle.
It was one of those games that Highlanders did not play their usual exciting game, but despite squandering early chances they still prevailed.
As early as the third minute, Nigel Makumbe shot weakly after he was sent through by Denzel Khumalo and the ball was safely collected by Chimusoro.
Bosso coach Madinda Ndlovu said that his team was still struggling to recover from their travels in the past week.
“Our last trip was taxing and it was evident from the way the boys conducted themselves today. It wasn’t our normal flowing football. The comeback was, however marvelous and thumbs up to the boys for their bravery. The most important thing was to make those people out there happy,” Ndlovu said.
On the stroke of half time Bosso were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty when striker Tafadzwa Sibanda was brought down inside the penalty box, but referee Pilan Ncube thought otherwise.
That was just after Sibanda had roasted defender Brian Chikwenya and hit the side net in another opportunity for Highlanders.
A timely substitution by Ndlovu in the second half, bringing in Sianchali and Godfrey Makaruse on the hour mark for the ineffective Brian Banda and Makumbe, paid dividends for the Bulawayo giants who desperately need to win the trophy to appease their hungry followers.
Yadah coach Thomas Ruzive said his young defenders went to sleep and they failed to hold on to their lead.
“We wanted to attack from the outset. My defenders went to sleep in the last 15 minutes. Football is sometimes cruel. We have young defenders who lack the experience. We are very disappointed, but football is a game of three results,” Ruzive said.
Leeroy Mavhunga had a sterling second-half, with substitute Leeroy Murape ensuring some anxious moments for Highlanders.
Ralph Matema also shot wide for the visitors in their only meaningful chance in the first half. NewsDay