Malajila hat-trick buries Masvingo
CUTHBERTH Malajila led from the front as Highlanders tore apart visiting Masvingo United at Babourfields Stadium on Wednesday.
The country’s most feared striker who is establishing himself in the national team struck with regular precision on his way to a hat-trick.
In truth, Masvingo were dominant, but Highlanders were ruthless.
The Bulawayo club - playing for the first time in the domestic league after the disappointment of exiting the African Confederations Cup -- grabbed the few chances that came their way to make a mockery of Masvingo’s romantic football.
Whereas Masvingo were content to kick the ball around, Highlanders – driven by Malajila’s desire – broke with menace.
The win, their third, lifted Highlanders to fourth on the table on 12 points – six behind leaders Chapungu who drew 1-1 with a Siza Khoza-inspired Kiglon on Sunday.
But for ambitious Masvingo, their fourth defeat – one as emphatic as this – will certainly send alarm bells ringing.
Malajila scored his first on 18 minutes. Zephania Ngodzo’s flighted cross eluded Masvingo skipper Pardon Chinungwa, and Malajila who was sniffing around for a chance had an easy tap-in past goalkeeper Francis Tizayi.
Back came Masvingo. Ndabezinhle Ndlovu crashed his header against the cross bar in the 24th minute with Washington Arubi beaten. From the rebound, Issac Chapura saw his overhead kick go wide.
Martin Vengesayi dissected the Highlanders central defence of Herbert Dick and Gilbert Banda time and again, but shot weakly at goal in the 27th, 34th and 36th minutes. Ovidy Karuru came close in the 41st minute. Highlanders were desperately hanging on to their slim advantage.
The former champions brought in Irvine Tinarwo at halftime for Wellington Sibanda and the move paid off within minutes. Tinarwo laid a measured pass into the path of an onrushing Douglas Zimbago, who rattled a shot from the edge of the box, catching the keeper on the wrong side of action.
That settled Highlanders’ nerves and those of their watching 1 000 or so fans from the paltry midweek crowd.
Malajila killed the match off as a contest with Highlanders’ third, and his second of the afternoon on 72 minutes, heading home a Douglas Zimbago cross from the left.
Masvingo substitutes Godfrey Dondo, Johnsen Zimbabe and Njabulo Ncube continued to probe the Bosso defence, but could not a find a way through.
Five minutes before
the end, Highlanders substitute Lawson Nkomo, who came in for the
injured Dick, helped through a Gift Lunga corner and Malajila had
Masvingo coach Taurayi Mangwiro said: “Despite being a goal down at halftime, we had finished strongly and we expected to pull a goal back in the second half.
“But that early second half goal unsettled us and we paid for the missed chances in the first half.”
His boss at the Under 20 national team and Highlanders coach Methembe Ndlovu was ecstatic about his team’s response to the Masvingo pressure and their late goal flurry.
“We weathered the storm and we got the goals that mattered in the second half. It was a good all round performance and we must build on it after the Confederations Cup disappointment,” he said.
Masvingo-F Tizayi, H Mawundi (J Zimbabe 67th min), A Raelo, P Chinungwa, G Magariro, M Tongai (N Ncube 55th min), O Karuru, I Chapura, M Moyo (G Dondo 55th min), M Vengesayi, N Ndlovu
Soccer League Results:
Thursday-Dynamos vs Njube Sundowns (Gwanzura)
CBZ Premier Soccer League Table (21 May 2008)
All material copyright newzimbabwe.com
Material may be published or reproduced in any form with appropriate credit to this website