Chaos at Barbourfields Stadium

BULAWAYO - Angry Highlanders supporters yesterday left a police officer seriously injured after violent scenes at the end of their side’s tension-filled Castle Lager Premiership stalemate against Chicken Inn at Barboufields Stadium.

The depleted police details at the venue had to run for dear life after Bosso fans stormed the pitch at the final whistle.

Referee Nkosikhona Moyo, who had a poor afternoon, ended the match in a controversial manner resulting in a melee between players from both teams. It was when the police tried to move in to protect match officials that all hell broke loose.

Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson chief superintendent Paul Nyathi said: “So far four police officers were injured during the clashes and one of them is in a serious condition. One person has been arrested.

“As police we want to strongly condemn these acts of violence at soccer matches. We urge players to respect referees’ decisions. As for the fans, we urge them to attend matches with one reason, to be entertained.

“We don’t want fans to attend soccer matches with the intention to cause violence as the police will be forced to react.”

Moyo was largely at the centre of the resultant ugly scenes due to his inconsistent and questionable decisions that he made right to the final whistle.

At one point, he denied Chicken Inn what appeared like a genuine penalty after Eric Mudzingwa had handled in the box but saw nothing amiss with it.

However, the worst was to come right on the stroke of full time when Moyo signalled to end the match when Chicken Inn had the ball in the back of the net.

Gamecocks midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu, who was in an offside position, received a pass inside the Bosso area before beating goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.

Instead of blowing for an offside, Moyo chose to signal the end of the game in a move that attracted the ire of the Chicken Inn players, who charged towards him querying his decision.

Bosso players also joined in the protestations resulting in the intervention of the police to protect the match officials.

This did not go down well with the Highlanders fans in the Soweto end, who then made a beeline into the pitch attacking the police.

At the height of the commotion, one fan was brutally attacked by a police dog which further infuriated the spectators with more pouring onto the pitch.

Sensing danger, the outnumbered police details retreated and soon took to their heels with missile-throwing fans in hot pursuit.

The police details had to seek refuge in the changing rooms as fans bayed for their blood.

Meanwhile, away from the drama, the derby saw the defending champions settle first when a 33rd minute header from defender Lawrence Mhlanga from a George Majika corner gave them the lead.

Bosso, however, managed to equalise after the break when, midfielder Simon Munawa connected a cross from Honest Moyo to beat Gamecocks goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze.

There were no further goals in the second period as it was the turn of Moyo to take centre stage with his questionable refereeing decisions.

Chicken Inn coach Rahman Gumbo had no kind words for the match official after the match.

“The game was a bit balanced but the end result was not fair. It was not a true reflection of the game. It’s not fair if the match official can decide the result of the game,” Gumbo said.

“I know they (Highlanders) had gone for three games without a win and today could have been the fourth defeat but they should fight for results not to rely on other people (referees) to win.”

Highlanders coach Erol Akbay instead blamed his wasteful charges for the result.

“I am not that sad about how we played. In the second half, we got so many chances but we did not score. In football if you don’t score you lose. But we can do better than this,” Akbay said.

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