Saturday, August 9, 2014

Highlanders loses 0-1 to Dynamos and drops from the top

An over-psyched Highlanders FC faced a very nervous Dynamos in a Castle Lager Premier League match at Barbourfields Stadium, hoping to rectify a crooked record dating to 2006 against the arch-rivals. An immense amount of pressure in the first half counted for naught as Bosso fell to a sucker-punch just after a second half restart.

With less than 30 seconds played, Charles Sibanda set up Njabulo Ncube who took weak shot from close range. That chance came from left wing after fine run by the league’s best striker, who delivered a perfect cross for Ncube to squander. The match proved to be a good passing game by both sides, Highlanders taking the initiative to create and fluff golden chances due to pressure to perform against their nemesis.
The Bosso wingbacks exposed themselves to Dembare attacks as they flooded forward, but the coach rectified the situation by pushing midfielders wide and kept the defenders put. Generally, both teams’ first touches lacked quality and exposed the players to possible injuries and bad decision-making. The many long balls proved fatal as strikers wrestled with defenders to control the balls.

Picking up of the second ball was dominated by Mantengwane. Sibanda played an extremely mobile type of football, spurning glorious chances to bury the opposition. Calisto Pasuwa replaced Mbimba who failed to catch up with the pace and the rhythm of the game by Murape Murape. That move was the game changer and the tonic of the game that the visitors wanted.
Mapuranga was fried by his man on the left wing, let a cross come through into the box. Kangwa controlled the ball for Mutumwa to stab the ball from under the crossbar. That goal was enough to compound a miserable period in which Highlanders collected two out of twelve points.

Despite previous dropped points, Highlanders kept the top spot, but the defeat at home lowered them to third and it can be worse in the next few days. Despite an avalanche of clear-cut chances and a lion’s share of possession, Kelvin Kaindu’s boys flattered to deceive and came off with nothing.
The Zambian coach came under excessive pressure as fans began to blame him, his tactics and substitutions. The missed chances were squarely placed on his shoulders as the general of the team. Among the various schools of thought, the team’s predictability of the same style of play and formation le to an approach every team expected from Bosso.
A direct blame of inability to read the game and useless subbing times and material led the Bulawayo giant faithfuls to take stock of how they could turn a record of nine losses and seven draw in the two clubs’ last 16 matches.

There is even polite advise for Kelvin Kaindu, that this was due time to pack the bags as he had tried his best which was seen as not enough. One fan praised his professionalism, believing that the gaffer sees the need to hand the button to a man with new tactics and ideas.
Kaindu received criticism of removing an ‘attacking box to box player in Manhanga’ with a defensive midfielder in Ndiweni when the team needed offensive power. The criticism extended to the reliance of the misfiring Njabulo Ncube, a tool whose antidote was a three men central defence.
The bitter pill to swallow, despite the loss of the points, the drop from the log summit and losing a match to direct rivals, is that the loss was to Dynamos. Winning the championship starts with victory over fellow contenders.
The biggest argument came when many defended him for assembling a good team that failed to convert easy chances and conceded the softest goal. Many think he should be coaching boys basic technique at senior level as others thought Sibanda and Njabulo should know what to do by now.
The truth, all emotion aside, is that technique training starts at the age of 6 and ontinues throughout the career of the professional. At this stage of the league, it should be forming a great part of the sessions. However, even the best have a bad day. If that day came against Dynamos, who is there to take the blame but the coach.
Kaindu has few men at his corner. Those baying for his blood do not know what they are talking about. The bearers of that thought based it on the unfortunate players who failed to convert chances that Kaindu drilled them through in training. The perpetrators were the players and KK the victim. The players let the coach down.
The tense and desperate situation created by the loss brought to the fore the fact that the buck stopped with the coach as no coach ever saved his job by arguing that players are missed chances. Despite the good effort in today’s match, the players’ lacked the die-hard spirit resulting in faulting and lapse in concentration.
Taking a punch in the chin and accepting defeat because the players failed to take chances never went well with many who looked at this one opportunity that looked promising until that fateful kick that punished an otherwise better team in terms of possession.
The day’s victors leapfrogged Bosso together with league debutants, ZPC Kariba FC, as Highlanders’ goal drought steadily swells to four matches. The superstitious began to blame the ground against Dynamos as it became the Harare’s fruitful ground, while others think that Saturday never favoured the black and white outfit side. There could be truth that an opportunity to take Dynamos to Luveve where they have always lost could have brought different results.
The saddest part of that game, was that it had become a fixture charged with emotion and the stakes became higher given the connotations of the results. At whatever level and for whatever reason, a match against Dynamos is bigger than the rewards. Any coach entrusted with the club has a fans mandate to beat Dynamos.
That failure to do so suddenly makes Kaindu a bad coach. The available players performed below par in crucial areas and at vital moments, as any play can have a bad day, and in this case, a single moment.
The desperate nature of the desired result makes the next fixture against the champions even harder for Kaindu or his successor. The players will try harder and fare dismally. To add salt to injury, the fans will be frustrated and throw missiles in the ground and cause fines that will milk the club dry.
That alone will incapacitate the club to get better players and increased performances to dismantle the Dynamos machine. If fans and supporters can throw missiles in the field of play, surely, players are entitled to miss those chances. If that barbarism is cool, what crime is there in not scoring a goal?