SOCCER pundits and thousands of fans that have watched Highlanders this season may have left the stadia a disappointed lot as the team’s midfield leaves a lot to be desired.
The team appears to be compact in all departments, but its lack of fluidity, creativity and co-ordinated play in the middle of the park seems to be the missing cog that hinders Bosso from being a potent opposition.
It’s not that Bosso doesn’t have the right arsenal in the midfield but somehow their players are just failing to click and this has led to lack of clean supply of balls to their rather fearsome looking strike force — at least on paper.
Prince Dube, Rodreck Mutuma, Ralph Matema, Gabriel Nyoni and Nhlanhla Ndlovu are capable of winning matches or scoring an avalanche of goals but they have not done much and many feel they aren’t getting good supplies from their midfield.
Dube is leading Bosso’s scorers chart with three goals while Mutuma has only managed one with the other strikers still to register any probably because of limited game time as Dube and Mutuma seem to be coach Erol Akbay’s preferred front men.
A look at the black and white stripped team’s midfield, it has Rahman “Rakocha” Kutsanzira, blessed with sublime dribbling skills and penetrating runs into the opposition’s half but his major undoing has been holding much to the ball and eventually getting disposed by opponents thus thwarting his team’s attack.
Allen Gahadzikwa has managed to affirm his position since joining Bosso after leaving champions Caps United in a huff early into the 2016 season. The former Motor Action and Platinum FC player is a marvel to watch. His nimble footedness is probably rivaled by none in the Premier Soccer League at the moment. He dribbles past opponents with ease and is also a perfect passer of the ball but his undoing is failure to mark and sometimes to last the distance.
Tendai “Tenko” Ngulube, a good interceptor of raids by opponents and a superb passer of the ball. However, he seldomly initiates moves and tends to tire if thrust into the team against opponents with pace.
Brian “BB” Banda, the young man, thrust into the first XI last season mostly coming in as substitute has this season justified his inclusion in the starting line-up with some telling performances and strives on playing basic soccer and powerful shots at goal as well as being a specialist set pieces taker.
Godfrey “Baba Jukwa” Makaruse, the youthful midfielder is full of energy and his surging runs are always a threat to the opposition and he is also quick at tracking back to defend but has had limited game time since the start of the season due to injury. He scored the winner after coming on as a substitute in his side’s 3-2 win against ZPC Kariba.
King Nadolo, the nimble-footed pencil slim midfielder, is an entertainer with good ball control skills and good passing ability.
However, his undoing is lack of physical fitness.
Eric “Tsiba” Mudzingwa is a workaholic who offers an imposing figure in the middle of the park and easily wins tussles but his undoing remains his ball passing precision.
Simon “Yola” Munawa has good ball controlling abilities and packs powerful shots at goal, scoring brilliant goals as well.
However, he is a clumsy marker and gives away a number of fouls and his contribution is rarely noticed most of the time in the field of play and this has made him to be singled out for the timid approach and lethargic performance by the Bosso midfield.
Munawa has proved to be one player who despite putting up a pathetic show, for the better part of the match, the coaches just can’t replace him.
Coach Akbay has vowed that he finds it difficult to substitute Munawa even when the player is a “bit under the weather” in terms of his performance in the field of play.
“I admit Simon can be completely out of the game sometimes, but he is a good player who fits well in my style of play because he is attack minded and even when he is not playing well I have rarely been tempted to substitute him because with Simon, you never know what he is going to do next. The minute you think about substituting him he goes boom, he scores, that’s Simon for you,” said Akbay.
The Nguboyenja-bred footie has always scored a couple of goals since arriving at the black and white brigade in 2011 but it was last year when he scored numerous goals and those were not just tap-ins but spectacular goals. There is always a Midas touch to each of the goals scored by Yola, which always has fans speaking about after the match.
His telling performances and goals led to Bosso’s late surge as Championship contenders as the team rallied back from its slumber to put up a fight for the title towards the close of the season, adding to the excitement of the league which was eventually won by Caps United with Platinum FC settling for the second place.
Munawa was brought to Bosso by Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku in 2011, having played for the now defunct AmaZulu, Zimbabwe Saints, Underhill and Shooting Stars.
Munawa put up another appalling show at home against Ngezi Platinum but with the striking duo of Prince and Mutuma fluffing the few goal scoring opportunities, it was left for Yola to make a run from deep inside his own half to meet a cross from the left by Kutsanzira with a glancing header late inside the second half and Bosso secured the maximum points to catapult them to the apex of the log for the first time this season.
Akbay admitted after the match that for the first time he was almost tempted to bring out his trump card as he failed to rise to the occasion against Madamburo as Ngezi Platinum are affectionately referred to by its legion of fans.
The fact that Yola scored when Akbay was contemplating replacing him might have cemented his growing status as the team’s talisman and fans can’t even afford to boo or whistle for his substitution because they have somehow mellowed in on his ghostly tendencies of popping with a goal — a gem one for that matter in the nick of time. Of course the graft player has left supporters only mumbling about his below par performance. They cannot afford to say it out aloud because somehow he delivers.
“Of course Munawa’s performances are not convincing at times but there is surely something unique about the boy which coaches see. He has been a regular in the last three coaches’ teams, he was always in the fray when (Kelvin) Kaindu, even during (Bongani) Mafu’s tenure and now Akbay. He was total out of the game against Ngezi Platinum but he scored the solitary goal and we went home happy,” said an avivid Bosso fan Bornface “Ndlovini” Ndlovu.
Another supporter, Thabiso Gundu said Bosso’s Achilles this season is the midfield.
“Our midfield is not fluid and in each game you will be having one player in that department well, others will be totally out of it. I single out Gahadzikwa as the most consistent player in that department yet I feel our coaches have a tendency of sometimes playing Munawa out of position. You find him playing mostly as a right link, I think he plays well as a defensive midfielder but we can’t afford not to have him in the team,” he said.