Highlanders Football Club has issued a sincere apology to the Zimbabwean football community following the crowd skirmishes that occurred during the high-profile premiership fixture against their archrivals Dynamos. The incident happened just 33 minutes into the game at Barbourfields Stadium, where the Bulawayo club was trailing by two goals. Fans stormed the pitch, protesting against the referring decisions that were perceived to be unfavourable to their team.
The police were overwhelmed by the advancing football hooligans, forcing them to retreat. Some fans were injured during the skirmishes, and vehicles were damaged as the police fought running battles with fans outside the stadium.
In a statement released on Monday, the Highlanders Football Club condemned the unsporting behaviour of the fans who caused the abandonment of the match. The club executive stated that they would be heavily fined for the mayhem, and the points would be awarded to Dynamos on a 3-0 scoreline as per the norm with abandoned matches.
The statement read, “Highlanders Football Club is deeply saddened by the crowd trouble that led to the abandonment of our league match against Dynamos FC at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday. The club condemns the unsporting behaviour that negatively profiles Zimbabwean football as a brand. It is sad to witness such ugly scenes at a family sports event, especially at a time when the club, together with other stakeholders, is working tirelessly to bring fans back into the stadiums and convincing the corporate world that sport, in general, and football, in particular, is worth their support.”
Highlanders apologised to all its stakeholders, especially sponsors, partners, and innocent football-loving fans who were affected by the acts of a few selfish individuals who care less about the growth of their clubs and football in general. They also prayed for those who were injured and wished them a speedy recovery. The club also urged stakeholders to work together to find a lasting solution to hooliganism in football stadiums.
This is not the first time in two seasons that a match involving the two most followed clubs has been abandoned due to crowd trouble. Another fixture was abandoned in May last year when both sets of fans invaded the pitch. Highlanders celebrated an unorthodox celebration for a 93rd-minute finish by Washington Navaya that broke the deadlock, while Dynamos fans were protesting a referring decision over an incident leading to the goal.
Zimbabwean youngster Jimiel Chikukwa has joined English National League side FC Halifax Town
Zimbabwean youngster Jimiel Chikukwa has joined English National League side FC Halifax Town following his release by Championship side Watford.
The 20-year-old forward was unveiled by Halifax Town last week. ”We are pleased to announce that FC Halifax Town has signed Jimiel Chikukwa, who was recently released from Championship team Watford”. Chikukwa started his career in the Leeds United academy when he was only 13 years old. However, he decided to join Watford’s academy in the summer of 2021 when his contract with Leeds expired.
During his time with Watford, Chikukwa was loaned to Maidstone United in the National League South for the second half of the 2021/22 season. Although the Stones won the National League South, Chikukwa only made one league appearance before returning to Watford at the end of the season.
Town boss Chris Millington is optimistic about the future of new signing Jimiel Chikukwa.
Millington expressed, “He is a young and thrilling player who needs to demonstrate his abilities in senior games. However, he has shown tremendous potential, and we believe he will be an exceptional player for our team in the future.” Millington also mentioned that Chikukwa is versatile and can play in various positions, including anywhere in the front three and as an attacking wing-back.
We think he could pose a danger when playing as a number nine, but he could also be a threat when positioned on either wing. In our current formation, he might even excel as an attacking wing-back, similar to Angelo Cappello.
Reims secures first win with Munetsi scoring his first goal
Zimbabwe international Marshall Munetsi has expressed his delight after scoring his first goal of the season to inspire Stade de Reims to their first win of the season following a 2-0 victory against Clermont Foot in the second round of the French Ligue 1 on Sunday.
The 27-year-old midfielder was instrumental in ensuring Reims got its first win of the season after breaking the deadlock with a header in the 17th minute.
Denmark international Mohamed Daramy, a new signing from Ajax, added a second goal by converting a low cross from Junya Ito in the 84th.
Munetsi, who is flourishing in a more advanced role at Reims, had several opportunities to double his tally.
Probably his best chance of securing a brace came in the 76th minute when the Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw produced a double save to deny the Zimbabwe international what looked like a certain goal.
In the end, it was a successful day for Munetsi as he continued his solid start to the season by scoring a crucial goal to follow up on his contribution on the opening day of the season when he registered an assist during the 2-1 loss against Marseille in the first round of the season.
Afterwards, Munetsi took to social media to praise his teammates for putting on a solid display to register their first win of the campaign in their second match.
Great team performance @StadeDeReims to get our first win of the season at home. We keep going,” Munetsi said.
The former Orlando Pirates player is expected to play an important role for the Zimbabwe Warriors when they return to international football later this year in the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers.
Highlanders regain a five-point lead as Dynamos secured a victory
League leaders Highlanders restored their five-point lead at the top of the Premiership table with a 1-0 defeat of basement side Black Rhinos in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Match Day 19 clash played in front of a good crowd at Barbourfields Sunday afternoon.
A howler by Rhinos goalkeeper Lenon Gonese on the half-hour mark gifted the Bulawayo side the goal they would go on to hang on to for a crucial win.
Gonese failed to deal with what looked like an easy catch from a set-piece effort by Andrew Mbeba to allow the ball to sail into the top right corner of his goalpost after slipping off his arms.
Earlier, big striker Stanley Ngala shot straight at the goalkeeper from the 12-yard box when he suddenly found the ball between his legs with Rhinos defenders nowhere to be seen.
Highlanders could have doubled their advantage when the talismanic skipper Ariel Sibanda took the long walk across the field to miss a penalty kick which presented itself deep into the clash.
Sibanda’s spot kick was parried back into play by Gonese to deny the unbeaten league leaders another deserved goal.
Highlanders went into the clash with two points separating them from second-placed Ngezi Platinum and were keen to maintain their buffer with the Mhondoro Ngezi title contenders.
Black Rhinos also had their own sporadic spells of good play in the clash but never did much to cause damage to their hosts.
In other Match Day 19 fixtures played Sunday, Dynamos caretaker coach Genesis Mangombe started his first premiership assignment in full charge with a 2-0 victory over Sheasham at Bata Stadium.
Mangombe was thrown at the deep end after the sacking of head coach Herbert Maruwa for failing to meet tight performance targets set by the Dembare executive.
Dembare got their goals through Jayden Bakare 38 minutes into the clash while Eli Ilunga made it two with 10 minutes left on the referee’s watch.
After the Match Day 19 round of fixtures, Highlanders still top the standings with 41 points while Ngezi Platinum are second with 36.
Manica Diamonds are third on 35 while Dynamos occupy number four on 32 points.