Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu has come to the defence of goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda following his red card in the 0-1 loss to city rivals Bulawayo Chiefs on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium.
Sibanda was sent off by referee Mhaka Magara in the 30th minute after he handled a Farau Matare’s effort towards goal outside the box.
Ndlovu was forced to sacrifice forward Godfrey Makaruse with second choice goalkeeper Prosper Matutu coming on.
There was nothing Matutu could do to stop Gracious Mleya’s free kick from going in as Chiefs claimed a third major scalp having already beaten FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars previously.
However, Sibanda, who also made another high profile mistake in the 1-2 defeat to ZPC Kariba last month, was the fall guy on Sunday.
Bosso fans have in recent weeks been critical of the former Warriors goalkeeper’s performances.
But Ndlovu, jumped to the defence of his first choice goalkeeper despite Bosso falling into fourth place with 29 points from 16 matches on the Castle Lager Premiership log.
“Then that berserk kind of situation which gave them (Bulawayo Chiefs) the goal and the sending off our goalkeeper, it was always going to be difficult to defend in circumstances like that,” Ndlovu said after the game.
“But I think we did very well, we came back in the second half and played very well. We planned our way of play with one man down.
“We were more offensive and we were more purposeful in our play with one man shot; we created more chances and they didn’t find any space to play even with an extra man.
“It is a situation whereby you look at your team and see what sort of character you have and I think for me, I’m a happy loser to this game because there are a lot of positives to take.
“The character the boys showed playing with one man down and if we were equal what would have happened? It is a loss that we will take because it’s a decision that my goalkeeper should have taken when we played against ZPC Kariba.
“The fact that he took that decision, I’m proud that he chose to play that way and I will fully support him for the decision he took.”
Ironically, Sibanda was also named the Highlanders’ Player of the Month of May after the match and received a full training kit and a hamper full of groceries from Body Works Gym.
In the last six matches, the Bosso goalkeeper had kept four clean sheets and beat off the challenge of teammates McClive Phiri and Charlton Siyamalonga for the top gong.
Meanwhile, Ndlovu is wary of Bosso’s trip this weekend to defending champions and log leaders FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium with his squad severely depleted by injuries and suspensions.
“It’s a nightmare for me because more players are not available for that game. Playing against a team like FC Platinum away, it will be very difficult without at least six regular players but it’s a game we have to go and play,” the former Warriors forward and coach said.
“If we play the way we finished the Chiefs game, we will be able to salvage something in Zvishavane but it’s a mammoth task for us. Also having two players having to sit on yellow cards, we might have a much worse situation than we have now.
“I would have loved for this to be the game we were going for the break to get the boys to recuperate but it’s a fixture that we have to go out there and play; that’s our job. We have to go out there try and see how we can shake up these boys so they can give a fight.”
Saturday: Bulawayo City v Mutare City (Barbourfields), FC Platinum v Highlanders (Mandava), Herentals v Shabanie Mine (NSS), Dynamos v Nichrut (Rufaro)
Sunday: Chapungu v CAPS United (Ascot), Harare City v Yadah FC, Bulawayo Chiefs v ZPC Kariba (Luveve), Black Rhinos v Ngezi Platinum (NSS), Triangle United v Chicken Inn (Gibbo), Harare City v Yadah (Rufaro)
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