Head Zimpapers Sport
HIGHLANDERS’ freefall has been spectacular.
After 19 games, Bosso were unbeaten and five points clear of second-placed Ngezi Platinum.
But, seven games later, the miners are now six points ahead of Bosso – an 11-point swing in under two months.
Highlanders have managed just one win in the completed six matches since the defeat at Mandava and that was a 2-0 success over Yadah on September 17.
There are still eight more rounds of matches with 24 points at stake for each of the 18 teams and Bosso’s own collapse is evidence that things will never be what they seem up until the final
Mid-August Highlanders were not being tipped for the title but they were also being challenged to finish the season unbeaten.
They had gone 19 games without a loss, having conceded just four goals.
Two things then happened.
The first was a revelation by coach Brito Baltemar that he had applied for the Warriors job, which triggered concerns from some sections of the Highlanders family who felt this would result in unnecessary distractions at a time things were flowing nicely.
In the same week, they visited defending champions FC Platinum for the 20th match of the promising season.
The match ended 2-0 in favour of FC Platinum, who ended a miserable run of six winless matches, including three successive home defeats at Mandava.
FC Platinum’s season was transformed and they now have the BEST record in the league over the seven-game period, between Week 20 and Week 26, four points better than leaders Ngezi Platinum.
Norman Mapeza’s charges now pose the biggest threat to Takesure Chiragwi’s table toppers, Ngezi Platinum.
The Week 20 match at Mandava was the first time this season that Highlanders conceded two goals in a single match as the four goals in 19 games before the trip to Zvishavane had come from four matches against FC Platinum (2-1), Cranborne Bullets (1-1), Greenfuel (1-1) and CAPS United (2-1).
A week later Highlanders were back at Barbourfields against city rivals, Chicken Inn and a repeat of the Mandava disaster happened –another two goals conceded.
So in back-to-back matches inside a week, Highlanders had conceded the same number of goals as in the previous 19 matches across five months.
They were trailing by two goals again a week later in the Battle of Zimbabwe clash away to Dynamos at Barbourfields when the match was abandoned after 38 minutes due to crowd trouble.
The matter awaits a Premier Soccer League Disciplinary Committee ruling.
In the six completed matches since the trip to Zvishavane, Highlanders have the league’s WORST record and sit bottom with just four points and, based on precedence, they will not be expecting to improve on the record when the ruling is delivered.
In the six completed matches, Bosso managed just three goals (0.5 goals a game) while conceding nine (1.5 goals per game).
Only bottom-placed Cranborne Bullets have performed worse than Highlanders in front of goal in the period between Week 20 and Week 26 as they have found the target only once, a 1-0 win over Simba Bhora at the National Sports Stadium on Week 25.
Conceding nine goals in the last six completed matches gives Highlanders the second WORST defensive record, which might get worse via the boardroom.
As things stand, only Bulawayo Chiefs and ZPC Kariba have done worse after conceding 10 goals in seven matches between Week 20 and Week 26.