HIGHLANDERS touched the heavens on Saturday, with a vintage second-half show that had champions written all over it, as they cleared one of their toughest hurdles in their bid to end six years of waiting for the league championship.
Masimba Mambare was the hero of the afternoon, with a double strike that took his tally against CAPS United to three goals in two league matches in a month, but there was more to this huge victory than just the marksmanship of a good forward.
Mambare, who has reinvented himself into one of the best forwards on the domestic scene since moving from the capital to the City of Kings, scored a contender for Goal of the Season with his second of the afternoon on Saturday.
After goalkeeper Eddie Sibanda, with a little helping hand from his defenders, had made a mess of what should have been a routine clearance, and unnecessarily thrust themselves under pressure, Mambare struck a goal for the archives in the decisive moment of the game.
From about 25-or-so metres out, he had the presence of mind to first and see where Sibanda, a giant who is developing a sickening habit of straying off his line with regularity, was positioned.
Having been fed on a regular dosage of being summoned to take free-kicks, in the past two years, Sibanda appears to believe that he is now more of an infield player than a goalminder.
It has become a significant flaw of his game, failing to keep is line, and now and again that has come at a huge cost for his team.
On Saturday, as his team chased an equaliser that was proving hard to come by against an inspired opponent, Sibanda again hopelessly wandered off his line as if he had been summoned to come and take another free-kick.
The punishment, when it was delivered, was not only brutal, but certainly beautiful.
Mambare, showing that he was a man feeding off a lot of confidence, went for delicacy and his chip was as exquisite as they will ever come, floating like a butterfly on its beautiful journey and with just enough height, and weight, to fly past Sibanda and drop inside the goal.
It’s such priceless moments that make football so beautiful and while Mambare’s insurance goal all, but settled this contest and plunged a dagger into the CAPS United hearts, the neutrals certainly joined the delirious Bosso fans in saluting such workmanship. But Bosso are not a one-man’s team. They are a solid unit and have key men in all key areas with ‘keeper Arial Sibanda turning into a rock on which their championship dreams can certainly be built.
He has grown in leaps and bounds this season and showed that he was taking his game to another level with a man-of-the-match performance for the Warriors against Zambia in Ndola on Wednesday.
In defence, skipper Innocent Mapuranga is the main man and is having a dream of a season after years in which his talent has been underrated.
Bruce Tshuma left memories at Rufaro as a showman, but hidden beneath that showboating was a defensive mind that impressed a lot, both in repelling attacks and in launching raids.
Mthulisi Maphosa did not thrive in midfield, the way he has done all season, but that was partly due to the fact that it was one of CAPS United’s tactics to neutralise him.
The problem is that they freed the dangerous and experienced Bhekhi Ncube who became the creative hub of Bosso’s best raids, including the reverse pass that confused the CAPS defence and created the first goal.
You have to give credit to Kelvin Kaindu, for turning the game on its head with his shrewd changes, and he has created a culture at Bosso, where everyone is equal, and if Maphosa is not performing, the price he pays is to be taken out.
That’s what happened on Saturday and all the changes that Kaindu, who keeps impressing with each passing game, made had a huge effect on the game. In contrast, the CAPS United changes didn’t lift the team and the Green Machine died the moment Taurai Mangwiro pulled out the hardworking Hardlife Zvirekwi.
Sean Connor had picked Bosso, in his half-season report, as the only team that had dominated CAPS United in the first part of this campaign.
He didn’t stay long enough at the Green Machine to face the league leaders for a second time, but even if he had lasted that long to be on the bench on Saturday, it’s very unlikely he would have had an answer to that swashbuckling second-half show by the Bulawayo giants.
He would certainly have been impressed by the way CAPS United fought in the first half and the openings they created but, if goal-scoring was the Achilles Heel that marked his association with the Green Machine as a failed project, it’s an area the new brooms need to sort with urgency.
Shingi Kawondera highlighted his frustrations in failing to open his account, ahead of this game, but he fired blanks again, even playing an advanced role upfront, and he knows, given his experience, he blew a good chance to do so.
Leonard Fiyado, for all the great expectations he showed at Gunners, has been bullied into a shell, and a state of paralysis, in the two big games he has played against Bosso and DeMbare while leading the line for CAPS United. It’s a different ball game, playing for Gunners and playing in the pressure cooker atmosphere of CAPS United, and Fiyado, who is not helped by being a lightweight, was anonymous on Saturday.
Rahman Kutsanzira, playing against the club he left behind as he looked for a bigger stage to take his game to a new level, didn’t thrive on the flanks and missed the best chance for the Green Machine with a header, with an open goal at his mercy, that flew wide.
A CAPS United fan charged towards the VIP Enclosure, after the game, claiming that superstition, rather than the players’ or technical shortcomings, were at the root of his team’s poor run that has yielded five losses in as many matches.
That supporter will certainly get a huge audience of believers, in that CAPS United camp, when one realises that it was exactly at the same angle, and same goal, where Fiyado failed to convert a chance, again with a header, in the Harare Derby.
There is a certain degree of belief, among these CAPS United players, that they are victims of a curse, especially when it comes to scoring goals.
But they won’t lift themselves out of their quagmire, as long as they remain slaves of their psychological demons, and their case isn’t being helped by their poor barren run.
To the credit of the CAPS United fans, they remain loyal to their team in such trying times and more than 12 000 people, the majority of them Green Machine supporters, were at Rufaro on Saturday.
The buzz in town is that CAPS United face a real danger of being relegated. But I beg to differ because, while they have hit a very bad patch, you can see that all they need is just one goal, to free them from the chains of their psychological demons, and one victory, to make them believe again.
The Green Machine lost to Bosso, after being pummelled in the second half, but they are a pretty strong team and, as long as their fans don’t desert them, they will compete again By Sbue