BULAWAYO – A solitary strike by super substitute Timothy January helped How Mine eliminate Black Rhinos from the Mbada Diamonds Cup with a 1-0 win in a tightly contested first round encounter at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
January replaced the ineffective Nqobile Mpala on 56 minutes and became the hero for the Philani Ncube coached gold miners when he poked home the only goal of the match on 70 minutes.
After the match Ncube admitted that his charges had not had it easy but paid tribute to January for his match winning heroics.
"We knew that they (Rhinos) would tire in the second half so we let them have the bulk of the possession in the first half.
"I am happy that January came in and made all the difference and we are through to the next round," Ncube said.
The match can best be described as a game of two halves as Black Rhinos dominated exchanges in the first half but were let down by poor finishing with their centre striker Lot Chiwunga being the chief culprit.
Chiwunga missed many gilt edged chances in the first half and the soldiers went onto pay the price for failing to turn their first half dominance into goals.
After the break the tide swung How Mine's way with veteran linkman Mernard Mupera pulling the strings in midfield.
This dominance saw How Mine setting up camp in the Rhinos half and this pressure paid off when January poked home after being set up by Simba Sithole.
Rhinos head coach Arthur Tutani introduced veterans Philip Marufu and Gilbert Mushangazhike in a bid to salvage the game but How Mine held on to progress to the next round.
How Mine captain Gilbert Banda was chosen as the man of the match and got $500.
How Mine: Ephraim Mazarura, Brighton Dube, Khumbulani Banda, Gilbert Banda, Herbert Dick, Ocean Mpofu, Mernard Mupera, Thembani Masuku (Xolisani Moyo 83 min), Warren Dube, Nqobile Mpala (Timothy January 56 min), Simba Sithole
Black Rhinos: Herbert Rusawo, Jameson Mukombwe, Milton Kurewa, Shadreck Jimu, Bruce Homora, Blessing Sande, Brighton Mugoni (Philip Marufu 70 min), Wonder Kapinda, Trust Machacha (Gilbert Mushangazhike 81 min), Lot Chiwunga, Wilson Chakanyuka (Brian Muzondiwa 72 min)