THE Premiership relegation dog-fight took a huge twist yesterday with troubled sides Herentals and Mushowani registering surprisingly big wins and brightening their survival chances.
Despite Yadah blowing their lead on three occasions before being held 3-3 by Manica Diamonds at Rufaro, there was also a ray of hope for the basement side.
Mushowani, who have been battling to stay afloat both financially and in the league, also upstaged Triangle 3-1 at Trojan Mine in Bindura.
However, the Gweru derby between Chapungu and TelOne ended goalless at Ascot.
But, there is no doubting that the shock result of the afternoon emerged from the National Sports Stadium, where forgotten striker Blessing Majarira finally found his range with a hat-trick that left title aspirants Black Rhinos shell-shocked with a 3-0 victory.
All of Majarira’s goals came in the first half as Herentals ended a winless streak that had seen the students going for eight games without a victory. Crucially for them, the win lifted Herentals into 13th position on the log table with 29 points.
It was the second hat-trick in a league where scoring three goals has been a difficult feat to achieve. The last player to grab three goals in a game was former Chicken Inn forward Clive Augusto when they played against CAPS United on June 6 at the same venue.
Although they are not yet out of the woods, Herentals’ triumph over Rhinos could give them the impetus they need as the Premiership season canters towards the home stretch.
“It has been so long since we last tasted victory. Today’s (yesterday) win was very important for us as it gives us somewhere to start from as we fight for survival.
“We will continue to work hard for survival,” said Herentals coach Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva.
Rhinos’ defeat did not go down well with their coach Herbert Maruwa, who accused his charges of being complacent.
“We conceded silly goals and I am very disappointed with this display. The result is very disappointing, we have to go back to the drawing board,” said Maruwa.
Rhinos only managed two shots on target.
At Rufaro, Yadah failed to hang on to their early lead, perhaps an indication of why they remain rooted on the foot of the log table with 25 points. It was a six-goal thriller that saw Godknows Mangani scoring for Yadah in the first minute, before Manica Diamonds’ dreadlocked midfielder Last Jesi equalised with a sublime long-range volley from outside the box four minutes later.
Veteran striker Ralph Mate put Yadah in front again with a powerful header after 15 minutes. Five minutes later, he won a penalty after being clipped by Nelson Tachi in the box.
Enoch Karemba coolly converted by sending Tafadzwa Dube the wrong way as Yadah enjoyed a 3-1 lead. After 30 minutes of play, Stanley Ngala headed home, thereby reducing the visitors’ deficit.
The two sides went to the break with Yadah leading 3-2. Their lead lasted until the 83rd minute when another veteran on show, Benjamin Marere, headed an equaliser that compounded Yadah’s relegation fight.
Their coach Genesis Mangombe admits it’s getting tougher with each passing week.
“We lacked concentration, we are lacking that maturity and we keep conceding from corner kicks,” he said.
Manica Diamonds’ Johannes Nhumwa was disappointed to be held by the bottom side.
“We were poor from the start, although we picked up later.
“It’s two points lost for us, but it’s part of the game. We were playing away from home against relegation candidates that were desperate for maximum points,” Nhumwa said.