Innocent Kurira, Sports Writer
THAT Highlanders FC coach Baltemar Brito sat on the bench for their Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final match against Caps United on Sunday was a surprise to many.
The bigger surprise was Peter Muduhwa making the starting 11 on the day.
Both had been on national team duty in Botswana the previous day.
Muduhwa played the entire 90 minutes in the Warriors’ 4-3 penalty loss to Botswana in Gaborone 24 hours earlier was involved in another penalty shootout loss in club colours.
The match against Caps had ended 2-2 in regulation time.
While it would have been thought the coach would allow some other players to play, he instead went for Muduhwa who however, did not disappoint and never looked tired.
The ever-reliable defender did not put any foot wrong on a day Mbongeni Ndlovu, who assumed the role of captain, and Andrew Mbeba were brilliant for Highlanders.
Not surprising though as Bosso’s main strength this season has been their defence.
Mbeba and Ndlovu led the Bosso comeback from 0-2 to 2-2 forcing a penalty shootout which in the absence of reliable penalty stopper Ariel Sibanda due to injury, was going to be a tall order.
While some questioned Muduhwa’s selection, Brito firmly stood by his decision.
“Peter has become a legend at Highlanders at this moment. He needs to play, if he is ready and if I have confidence in him, I will select him. If he is tired okay but he woke up early and he was not tired. The boy wanted to help the team, to fight. I cannot say no, even though know there is another player who wants to play,” said Brito.
“This is football. Sometimes the players are efficient, sometimes they are not. I think the second half was good. We scored the two goals but they were not enough for us to win in penalties,” said Brito.
Highlanders FC produced a spirited second-half performance but it was not enough to see them through to the semi-finals. CAPS United scored two goals in the first half but fizzled out in the second stanza in which they were dominated by Highlanders who had the crowd pushing them.
Bosso would eventually lose the game 5-3 on penalties. Now all the focus will shift to the league for Highlanders where they are among the chasing pack.
Bosso are in second position on the league table and trail leaders Ngezi Platinum by four points.
Bosso have 44 points from 23 outings.
Up next for Highlanders is a midweek clash against Sheasham at Barbourfileds Stadium tomorrow.
Bosso will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways having lost their last league encounter 1-0 to Hwange at the Colliery Stadium. The first leg between Bosso and Sheasham played at Bata Stadium in Gweru ended in a nil all stalemate.
With the league title, now being their only realistic chance of silverware at the end of the season, Highlanders need to put all their effort into the league.
Mid-Week PSL Fixtures
Today: Cranbourne Bullets v Simba Bhora (NSS)
Tomorrow: Herentals College v Chicken Inn (NSS), Ngezi Platinum v Black Rhinos (Baobab Stadium), Manica Diamonds v FC Platinum (Gibbo), CAPS United v Yadah (Bata Stadium), Highlanders v Sheasham (Barbourfields) ZPC Kariba v Green Fuel (Nyamhunga Stadium)
Thursday: Triangle v Dynamos (Gibbo Stadium), Bulawayo Chiefs v Hwange (Luveve Stadium)