FC Platinum skipper Zephaniah Ngodzo believes his team is still in the race for the Castle Lager Premiership accolade despite failing to win the last five league matches.
They dropped more points on Saturday after being held to a 1-1 draw by Caps United at Mandava Stadium, while joint leaders Motor Action also played out a 1-1 draw with Chicken Inn.
Caps striker Pride Tafirenyika struck back with 10 minutes to go to cancel substitute Donald Ngoma’s lead and score the first goal by an away team in Platinum’s six games played at a seemingly impregnable Mandava Stadium. The club shifted base from Maglas Stadium in early June.
Sharing of spoils by the leaders allowed determined Dynamos, who overpowered Zimbabwe Saints 4-0, to close the gap to just one point behind the pair who have 43 points each, with the Bulls on top due to a superior goal difference.
Ngodzo, who was part of the 2006 Highlanders championship-winning side under Methembe Ndlovu, believes they had not lost ground and expressed his desire to lift another league title.
“Today’s draw was OK and we are not yet out of the race. We are still in the running and will play to win the remaining seven matches. It is a good feeling winning the championship and I would like that to happen again,” said Ngodzo.
Despite the poor run which has seen Platinum giving away 11 points out of a possible 15, coach Rahman Gumbo looked calm and believed it was still game on.
“We are still on the right track. The draw was OK and it’s just part of the game,” he said.
Caps coach Lloyd Chitembwe said: “It’s not about me holding Gumbo, but it’s just about playing football in a way that makes our soccer standards high.”
There used to be bad blood between the platinum miners’ coach Gumbo and Chitembwe under the tutelage of the veteran mentor at Caps United almost a decade ago.
Rahman claimed then Chitembwe was behind his exit at United as the former midfielder wielded player-power like that formerly exercised by Memory Mucherahowa at Dynamos or Esrom Nyandoro at now-defunct AmaZulu.
Chitembwe, on the other hand, publicly pinpointed Gumbo — who was then Zimbabwe Warriors assistant coach to Sunday Chidzambwa — as the master-mind of his shock exclusion from the final squad for the country’s maiden dance at the 2004 Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia.
Chitembwe’s omission was Gumbo’s revenge as he had held the steely anchorman responsible for ending his ties with the Green Machine.
This was despite Chitembwe playing an instrumental role in the qualification rounds and being credited with keeping Barcelona man Seydou Keïta at bay in that memorable 1-0 victory over Mali at the National Sports Stadium on the afternoon of September 8 2002. But after the match on Saturday, the two tacticians shook hands and embraced, giving the impression they have since smoked the peace pipe.
Meanwhile, Shabanie Mine drew 2-2 with Masvingo United at Mucheke Stadium on Sunday, but remain trapped in the relegation zone on 13th spot with 24 points.
Tafadzwa Mombeshora and Caleb Masocha scored for the asbestos miners while Pevington Zimunya’s brace saved Masvingo.