Highlanders through

BULAWAYO - Highlanders are through to the quarterfinals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup after scrapping past Blue Rangers in an ill-tempered match yesterday.

The Bulawayo giants have hit a bad patch and yesterday’s game was no different as they failed to play the passing game that has characterised their play this season.

Blue Rangers’ delaying tactics did not help matters as they started to waste time as early as the first half.

This ploy earned the visitors’ goalkeeper Pedzisai Gumiremhete a yellow card and this came back to haunt him in the second half when he was expelled by referee Bekezela Makeka after going to the ground feigning injury.

Gumiremhete’s expulsion caused a 10-minute stoppage as the Blue Rangers players, led by their captain Nyasha Chazika mobbed the referee in protest.

Rangers coach Partson Ndabambi also got into the act and led his charges off the pitch and only changed his mind after veteran coach Cosmas Zulu advised him to continue with the match.

Gumiremhete had to be restrained by police after he charged at Makeka as he was being helped off the field by the Rangers medical team.

Highlanders had opened the scoring on 25 minutes through Bheki Ncube when he headed in a cross from right back Lawson Nkomo.

The goal went a long way in settling nerves for the home side who had hitherto struggled to dominate the Premiership minnows.

The Bosso lead was shortlived however, as David Temwanjira equalised for the visitors on 34 minutes after being allowed to turn in the penalty box by Highlanders captain Innocent Mapuranga.

Tigere Muparanganda provided the assist for the Rangers goal.

That goal saw Rangers start to employ time-wasting tactics and Gumiremhete was booked for his antics on 39 minutes.

After the break Rangers capitalised on Highlanders’ low confidence on the ball and had chances to take the lead through efforts from veteran midfielder Eddie Mashiri and Effort Kopeni.

The Highlanders technical team then rung changes and brought in Beaven Chikaka for Graham Ncube, Knox Mutizwa replaced Simon Munawa and Ozias Zibande was introduced for the off-form Peter “Rio” Moyo.

Zibande went on to save the day for his side after finishing off a Nkomo corner kick that had been redirected onto his path by Bheki.

After the match Highlanders assistant coach Bekithemba Ndlovu admitted the Bulawayo giants had not been at their best.

“We did not play our normal passing game but at the end of the day what matters is that we won and progress to the next stage,” Ndlovu said.

Blue Rangers coach Partson Ndabambi blamed the match officials for his team’s defeat. - Sakheleni Nxumalo

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