The Sunday News
Don Makanyanga in Zvishavane
Ngezi Platinum Stars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(0) 1
FC Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(0) 2
NGEZI Platinum Stars coach, Rodwell Dhlakama was left a disappointed man after his charges were dislodged from pole position on the Chibuku Super Cup Group Four log standings and also lost the bragging rights to rivals FC Platinum at Mandava yesterday.
Two second half goals by former Chicken Inn man Innocent Mucheneka five minutes after the break and Rainsome Pavari as minutes from time ensured it is the Zvishavane miners who will now top the group.
Bruno Mtigo had briefly brought Ngezi backinto the game but that only lasted five minutes before FC Platinum regained the lead. Both teams are now tied on 13 points but FC Platinum lead the standings on superior goal difference.
They will however, have to await the identity of their quarter-finals opponents as Group Two that features Highlanders and Chicken Inn is still to be decided. Ngezi were the first off the blocks in the searing heat of Zvishavane where temperatures hit 38 degrees with the hot weather still making a mockery of the morning kick-off.
Having sealed their quarter-final berths, the clash was always going to decide who tops the group and also walks away with their bragging rights in this battle of the platinums.
In the opening minute FC Platinum found themselves on the back foot when Valentine Kadonzvo broke free on the left flank before squaring the ball to Wellington Taderera, who did well to beat his marker before watching his attempt going just wide off target.
Taderera was again guilty of missing another glorious chance as he came face to face with FC Platinum skipper and goalkeeper Petros Mhari, eight minutes later.
An alert Mhari did well do deny Taderera what could have been his breakthrough.
Norman Mapeza’s men then eventually found their way into the game after 10 minutes as action now swung from one end to the other.
Neither side was however, effective in the final third with FC Platinum’s first real sniff at goal coming on the half-hour mark when Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya snatched away the ball from Ngezi Platinum Stars goalminder Nelson Chadya, only to see his rushed effort hitting the upright in front of an open goal.
FC Platinum finally broke the deadlock five minutes after the break when Mucheneka headed in a Ngwenya cross from the right. Ngezi Platinum Stars continued to press looking for the equaliser in a bid to ensure they maintained their lead at the top of the Group Four.
Referee Arnold Ngwenya awarded Ngezi Platinum Stars a penalty 12 minutes from time when Lawrence Mhlanga handled Anelka Chivandire cross. Nigel Makumbe stepped up to take the spot kick.
Mhari dived to his right to save the effort only for Mtigo to capitalise on the rebound and unleashing a powerful shot that levelled matters.
But any hopes of a share of the spoils was dashed for Ngezi when Pavari ensured that FC Platinum bagged all the points after heading home Donald Teguru’s free-kick five minutes from time. Dhlakama found it hard to swallow the defeat.
“It is difficult to accept a defeat, as I feel we could have won the game considering that we missed two clear cut chances in the early stages of the match. We wanted to win, we wanted to finish strongly, we have to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise going into the quarter-finals,’’ said Dhlakama.
Mapeza saluted his Premiership champions.
“We played well, and I am happy for the boys they played very well. Our focus is now on the quarter-finals and we are ready for either team that we will play in the knock-out stages,” said Mapeza.
Ngezi Platinum Stars: N. Chadya, K Chigwida, P. Moyo, B Mtigo, Q. Amini, W. Taderera V. Kadonzvo(M. Makuwe 60 min) , A. Makopa, M. Mushonga, D. Mukamba (A Chivandire 60 min) , M. Mukumba
FC Platinum: P. Mhari R Kutsanzira, D. Dzvinyai, L. Mhlanga, K. Mangiza, R. Pavari, I Mucheneka, R. Chinyengetere, P. Mutimbanyoka, D. Teguru, T Ngwenya