The Sunday Mail
Langton Nyakwenda in Bulawayo
Ngezi Platinum Stars………………………..0
AFTER four years of waiting, Highlanders finally won a major trophy when they lifted the Chibuku Super Cup at Barbourfields yesterday. Once again, it was the prince of this oldest football kingdom, Prince Dube, who was the main actor, albeit in controversial style.
Dube’s long range outfooter, right at the stroke of half time, beat Ngezi Platinum Stars keeper Nelson Chadya and hit the underside of the cross bar. It was not clear if the ball crossed the line when it bounced. However, the assistant referee immediately signalled a goal, triggering a massive protest from Ngezi players. They mobbed Brighton Chimene, who handled yesterday’s final.
An irate Ngezi Platinun Stars coach Rodwell Dhlakama described the goal as “daylight robbery”, while Bosso coach maintained his side had won it fairly. “Losing in this manner is very sad. To me, the goal they were given was daylight robbery,” moaned Dhlakama.
“I have to accept that they (Highlanders) have won according to the match official, but the world saw what happened today (yesterday).
“That was the turning point of the game. That ball did not cross the line. Where in the world have you seen a goal like that,” a visibly angry Dhlakama added. Controversy or no controversy, Bosso bagged their first major title since December 2015, when they beat Chicken Inn by an identical scoreline to win the Easycall Cup at the same venue. The Bulawayo giants pocketed $225 000 and will represent Zimbabwe in the next edition of the CAF Confederation Cup.
“I am a champ,” boasted Highlanders coach Hendrick Pieter de Jongh soon after the final whistle. The Dutch gaffer, who is yet to taste defeat since assuming the reigns, also insisted Dube’s strike was a genuine goal. “Difficult game, we started off very well, we scored at the right time,” he said.
“I am happy we played disciplined football.
“For me that was a goal, from the reaction of the fans, that was a goal. The referee gave a goal.”
Highlanders had their first real chance in the 14th minute when Tinashe Makanda’s freekick was punched out for a corner by Nelson Chadya.
Four minutes later, Ngezi Platinum Stars responded, but Marlon Mushonga was thwarted by an alert Ariel Sibanda.
Ngezi dominated the second half, with Gerald Takwara solid in the centre of the park, but the Mhodoro side could not turn that upperhand into goals. Instead, it was Dube who could have sealed the deal in the 72nd minute, when he was sent through by Nqobizitha Masuku, but the red hot Warriors striker failed to beat Chadya in a one-on-one situation. Ngezi interim coach Dhlakama badly needed this Cup to enhance his chances of getting the Mhondoro job on a permanent basis.
The Ngezi Platinum Stars board is expected to sit soon after the conclusion of the season to decide Dhlakama’s fate. But even without this Cup, there is no doubt that Dhlakama has put in a decent shift since taking over from Elroy Akbay.