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banner Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Highlanders exit in shame
national stadium, harare
The National Stadium in Harare hosts what is now a huge game on Wednesday
Fans of Zimbabwe club Highlanders forced the abandonment of their club's Champions League tie with Young Africans of Tanzania by throwing bottles and other objects from the stands.

Several of the Young Africans team and a Highlanders security official were struck, and referee Charles Kafatina of Malawi abandoned the game after a 15-minute stoppage.

It comes three days before Highlanders are due to face arch-rivals Dynamos in the National Stadium in Harare in a game to celebrate Zimbabwe's independence.

Security concerns are certain to be stepped up for the match - five died in a similar game in 1998 in a crush in an overcrowded stadium, as 85,000 tried to get into a ground which holds 60,000.

The trigger for the violence was the late award of a penalty to the Tanzanians, who were already virtually certain of a shock result as they stood 2-0 up after drawing the first leg 2-2 at home.

A near-capacity crowd of 35,000 at Barbourfields in Bulawayo had considered victory a formality.

'Wasting time and cash'

Highlanders had strengthened their team this season with seven signings, in expectation of reaching the group stages, and coach Rahman Gumbo had said the Tanzanians were wasting time and cash travelling to Bulawayo after the first leg result.

national stadium stampede aftermath
13 died after the stampede at Zimbabwe v South Africa
Highlanders had won all five of their domestic matches so far, including a 2-1 success against old rivals Dynamos in the Charity Shield last week.

But they were second best in the first half as Ali Yusuf put Young Africans ahead on 32 minutes.

The visitors then repelled waves of Highlanders attacks after the break as well as breaking away to score a second through Saidi Maulidi on 57 mins and then winning that spot-kick when Yusuf was brought down.

That was the final straw for many youths in the stands, in scenes reminiscent of the tragedy at the National Sports Stadium in July last year when fans began to riot as Zimbabwe faced defeat against South Africa, and 13 died after police fired tear gas.

Latest violent event

It is the third incidence of violence involving Highlanders fans in recent months, despite appeals by the club before this game.

Supporters rioted all day long in Masvingo in November on the day Highlanders wrapped up last season's title, and there were ugly scenes at Barbourfields in December when they lost to Dynamos in the Challenge Trophy.

The Zimbabwean FA ordered Highlanders to play their first three home games in empty stadiums, but that punishment was later suspended.

They now have to face the sobering reality of heavy sanctions from the Confederation of African Football after blowing their Champions League hopes for a second successive year.

Last season Highlanders failed to make the group games after losing a 3-0 first leg lead to Sable de Batie of Cameroon and exiting in a penalty shoot-out.

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