IT was shaping to be one of the most exciting Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clashes of the season, but the Highlanders, Dynamos clash was abandoned prematurely following crowd trouble in the first half at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Highlanders . . . . . . 1
Dynamos . . . . . . . . 1
Match abandoned after 40 minutes
Match officials fell under the spotlight following a hotly disputed Dynamos equaliser five minutes before the break when Cameroonian forward Christian Epoupa appeared to have scored from an offside position.
Second assistant referee Thomas Kusosa was mobbed by incensed Highlanders players after he allowed play to continue despite suspicion of offside.
What then followed was a barrage of missiles from the Highlanders fans at the Eastern Stand popularly known as Empankweni.
Highlanders officials and the police tried to intervene, but the fans would have none of it as they continued to pelt Kusosa, who fled to the centre circle for safety.
To make matters worse, the uncontrollable fans invaded the pitch and were engaged in running battles with the law enforcement agents, security details and Highlanders marshals.
This went on for 40 minutes until referee Munyaradzi Majoni and his team of Kusosa and first assistant referee Edgar Rumeck and players from both sides left the pitch for the dressing rooms.
Match commissioner Edson Nkau confirmed the game had been called off with the fans still milling around at the stadium.
“The match has been called off because of crowd trouble. That has been communicated to both teams,” Nkau said.
Highlanders scored first in the 23rd minute though captain Rahman Kutsanzira’s grounder from outside the penalty box from an Allan Gahadzikwa corner-kick.
The Bulawayo giants dominated until the last 10 minutes of the half and then came that goal from Epoupa which sparked the noise.
In the 40th minute after a good build-up Dynamos’ Emmanuel Mandiranga’s effort deflected of a Highlanders defender on to the path of Epoupa, who made no mistake and shot past goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
Second assistant referee Kusosa signalled for a goal and Majoni pointed to the centre, sparking the unfortunate incident which led to the abandonment of the match.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, B Ncube, G Moyo, T Ndlovu, P Muduhwa, E Mudzingwa, P Dube, S Munawa, R Mutuma, R Kutsanzira, A Gahadzikwa
Dynamos: T Mateyaunga, P Makaha, I Mushure, M Machazane, E Muroiwa, T Chipunza, D Mukamba, W Mutasa, E Mandiranga, T Macheke, C Epoupa