Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
Dynamos 1 -1 Highlanders
DYNAMOS coach Lloyd Mutasa says his team, which blew their chance to go on top of the Castle Lager Premiership soccer table when they were held by Highlanders at Rufaro yesterday and will also miss their star forward Christian Epoupa Ntouba in the next two Castle Lager Premiership soccer matches will not lose sleep over what transpired during the Battle of Zimbabwe but will rather regroup and make do with the available players.
The Glamour Boys will be without Ntouba beginning this Sunday when the outstanding Harare derby against Caps United is played at the same match venue.
The on-fire Cameroonian striker was shown a straight red card by referee Arnold Ncube in the dying embers of this match for head-butting Highlanders player Peter Muduhwa in an off the ball incident as DeMbare were preparing to take a corner.
Chibuku Super Cup play offs for the bottom four teams will be staged this Saturday to determine two winners that will join other 14 teams in the first round of the tournament.
And the league will also use the free Sunday to have outstanding matches played and Dynamos who beat Caps United a week ago will meet their rivals again in the first round match which was postponed during the opening half of the season.
Yesterday, the Glamour Boys had the perfect chance to shoot to the summit following pacesetters Chicken Inn defeat by Yadah on Saturday but they shared the spoils with a determined Highlanders in an incident-filled match at Rufaro where the hosts finished the match with 10 men while the visitors also had penalty claims turned down by referee Ncube.
The Battle of Zimbabwe, the biggest game on the domestic scene, was, however, affected by the Masvingo referee Ncube who failed to stamp his authority on the game which fortunately ran its full course amid chaotic scenes at Rufaro.
DeMbare chief forward Ntouba was given his marching orders three minutes before the full-time when he was shown a straight red card for head-butting defender Muduhwa as the players were preparing to take their lines before a Dynamos set-piece was taken.
The Cameroonian, who was already frustrated after he was hit in the face just after resumption by Highlanders defender Benson Phiri, and had found the opener in the first minute of the match, finally cracked on an afternoon he appeared to be a target from Bosso players.
Ntouba found the opener in the opening minute when he headed into the nets from his skipper’s Ocean Mushure free-kick from the right.
However, the Glamour Boys felt hard done by the referee’s decision to send Ntouba for an early shower while Phiri escaped with a verbal warning for hitting the same Cameroonian striker.
Mutasa said Ntouba was bound to lose his temper but they will soldier on without their chief striker who currently leads the Golden Boot race with 12 goals.
“Unfortunately he lost his temper at the end of the day. Such scenarios take some seconds to happen and I did not see much. But the same scenario happened right in the face of the referee but the young man (Phiri) went scot free and then you wonder whether some decisions differ depending on the team.
“We did not create as many chances as we normally do. In a game of football at times you can even win matches when things are against you and if you want to be champions at times you need to overcome such hurdles and come out with a positive result, but it wasn’t to be today.
“As an institution, I am sure every game that we play we would want to come out victorious but these are the kind of results that you find in a football game but we cannot lose sleep over such a result, the bottom line is we have to go back to the drawing board and work on our weaknesses.
“These scenarios (of losing Ntouba) do happen in football but we have registered 30 players and we have to move on as an institution, we have other 29 players to do duty for us as we wait for the young man to come back and do duty for us,” said Mutasa.
Highlanders, who showed strong resolve once they conceded, levelled the terms in the 60th minute through defender Honest Moyo who did justice to a well taken free-kick to turn and shoot for goal, beating Dynamos goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga.
Earlier on, in the 52nd minute, Highlanders felt robbed of a penalty when their forward Godfrey Makaruse was brought down by defender Phakamani Dube inside the box and the referee despite cautioning Dube for the foul, did not give Bosso the spot-kick.
Five minutes before full time, tensions were simmering in the game in which DeMbare were chasing for a straight seventh victory while Highlanders were seeking to put a stop to a poor run in which they lost four matches on the trot.
And it was not surprising when a red card was later flashed. This resulted in frustrated Dynamos fans from the Vietnam stand resorting to throwing missiles onto the pitch on the 90th minute mark, briefly stopping the game.
It was a battle to have the three minutes optional time played and the DeMbare ball boys made the situation worse as another ball would be thrown into the pitch once Highlanders were in attack.
This was just a poor advert for Zimbabwean football as the match was being beamed live on SuperSport 10.
Once the three minutes lapsed Ncube blew to end the match as he feared for a match abandonment.
Highlanders coach Erol Akbay was disappointed that they were denied full points in a game which the Bulawayo giants led by Gabriel Nyoni threw everything at DeMbare after they had equalised and sought for the winning goal.
He blamed referee Ncube for denying them full points and questioned the local referees on “how hard should one be tackled before being given a penalty”.
“I am not happy today, we had to win this match today. We had lots of chances, we had one penalty which was not given,” said Akbay.
The under-fire Dutch coach was, however, happy that there is progression with his team and says his target is to win all the remaining matches that they will play.
Dynamos: T. Mateyaunga, P. Dube, P. Makaha, L. Zvasiya, G. Mukambi, T. Chipunza, G. Saunyama, C. Kapupurika (E. Mandiramga 59th minute), O. Mushure (M. Mambare 75th minute, D. Mukamba (T. Macheke 49th minute) E. Ntouba.
Highlanders: A. Sibanda, B. Ncube, P. Muduhwa, H. Moyo, G. Nyoni (R. Matema 74th minute), B. Phiri, K. Nadolo, B. Banda, T. Ngulube, R. Kutsanzira, G. Makaruse
Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau