HARARE – Highlanders blew a golden chance to go top of the Castle Premiership log standings after they were frustrated to a 1-1 draw by Division One-bound Motor Action at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.
With Dynamos and Harare City dropping points yesterday, Bosso were expected to roll past the demoted Mighty Bulls to put themselves back on course for their first Zimbabwean championship since 2006.
The Bulawayo giants remain in third place, one point behind City and Dynamos, who both have 49 points.
it was the Motor Action starlets with big hearts, playing as though their lives depended on the result, who emerged from Rufaro with all the respect from critics and neutrals alike.
Highlanders’ spirits were broken in a match they played second fiddle to a side whose premiership days are done and dusted despite being the first to break the deadlock through Master Masitara 15th minute header.
The Mighty Bulls levelled matters 15 minutes later through Walter Musona’s spectacular free kick and could have extended that lead were it not for the heroics of Bosso goalie Munyaradzi Diya.
Although the result did not change the Mighty Bulls fate coach David George was still full of praise on his players.
“If we are demoted that doesn’t mean we should just give away matches, that’s not it,” George said.
“We will fight until the last game. Even the games that we were losing we were fighting like we fought today but we were just unlucky to be getting relegated.”
His opposite number, Bosso assistant coach Bhekimpilo Ndlovu standing in for the absent Kelvin Kaindu blamed yesterday’s result on complacency.
“We were prepared for this game but maybe the players were like ‘Motor Action are already relegated, Motor Action are not a big team, they are small boys.’ But in football there are no small teams.
“When you play you play to your best. It’s down to attitude and mentality.”
Motor Action showed they still have the ability to stand toe to toe with the Premiership giants.
The 2010 Zmbabwe champions, who were relegated last weekend, dominated the exchanges for the better part of the match and created the clearer opportunities.
The Eric Rosen-owned side were looking impressive with Musona, Scholar Hadebe and Wisdom Mutasa making some delightful touches in midfield.
It was, however, Highlanders who would break the deadlock through Masitara, whose header beat Donavan Bernard in goals for Motor Action just on the quarter hour mark.
Bhekimpilo Ncube had fashioned the assist from Masimba Mambare’s corner Kick.
The Mighty Bulls were soon on level terms on the half hour mark with Musona striking a beautiful free kick from the edge of the box beating a fully stretched Diya.
The Bosso goal minder was soon called into action but this time he was equal to the task producing a top drawer save to stop Emmanuel Mandiranga, who was clear on goal.
Highlanders’ fans, however, had a moment of good news as word filtered into the venue that their rivals Dynamos had fallen behind in Triangle.
But their own problems were far from over with Motor Action beginning the second half with the same intensity they had ended the first with Musona in irresistible form down the right wing.
On 55 minutes the Aces Youth Academy product left the usually reliable Bruce Kangwa for dead before sending an inviting cross to an unmarked Mandiranga.
But the Motor Action striker failed to at least directed his effort on target with the Bosso defence out at sea.
The 18-year-old was on the prowl once again in the 71st minute wrong footing Mthulusi Maphosa before going on a solo run and chipping a pass to Mutasa.
The delightful through ball left Mutasa one-on-one with Diya but the son of Dynamos legend Lloyd Mutasa was stopped in his tracks by an alert Diya, who rushed off his line throwing his body in the line of the impeding danger.
Highlanders would later try in vain to open up Motor Action in search of what would have been a championship goal.
They were however left to accept that on the day they fell second best to a team whose interests in the Premiership were all now a part of history.