SATURDAY’S Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-final between FC Platinum and Shabanie Mine at Mandava Stadium simply defined what football rivalry in the small mining town of Zvishavane is all about.
REPORT BY WELLINGTON TONI RECENTLY IN ZVISHAVANE
We have witnessed big derbies — Dynamos and Caps United in Harare, and Highlanders; Zimbabwe Saints in Bulawayo — when the 1988 league champions were still a force to reckon with. But since FC Platinum came into the league last year, signing most of the big-name free agents and taking the limelight from Shabanie Mine, that rivalry has grown since 2011. Saturday’s match, with almost 15 000 fans watching, was no different.
Donald Ngoma settled the day with a flashing header in the seventh minute after Benjamin Marere had headed a corner-kick delivered by Ali Sadiki. Dressed in a green and white, and some in gold colours, Platinum fans trickled into the stadium just after midday and most settled at an entertainment venue just close to the field.
The rest were at the Garden Bar at the Platinum Lounge, Madeira and Uptown sports bars as they waited for the big clash. These were joined by the all-maroon Shabanie Mine fans.
On the field, Platinum dictated the pacy match with Sadiki running rings around Tafadzwa Mombeshora, while Nelson Mazivisa for Shabanie, was under lock and key from captain Daniel Vheremu at the other end, before Ngoma’s winner in the seventh minute.
So confident was Platinum on the ball that even Norman Togara found time to venture upfront two minutes later, but his left-foot shot followed the wind, curving away from the target.
Shabanie were not intimidated though. They pressed forward on the half-hour, but still Mazivisa could not breach the Platinum defence, as supporters from both ends danced and sang on top of their voices, waving their flags and creating at carnival atmosphere. Ngoma eluded Gilford Mchiwa in the 38th minute, but shot weakly at goal and the striker was found wanting again four minutes later. At the other end, Mombeshora, feeding off a Mazivisa pass, could not get the equaliser a minute into first-half optional time.
Shabanie could have drawn level in the 57th minute after Pevington Zimunya delivered a sweet corner that Tafadzwa Dube — Platinum goalkeeper — missed and Mazivisa and substitute Caleb Masocha arrived late to finish off, leaving the ball to fly across the face of goal.
Ngoma could have made it two on the hour when he collected a pass from Charles Sibanda, jinxed past skipper Rodney Mware and charged forward. But Twaliki’s quick thinking saw Ngoma pushed off the target and when he eventually took a shot at goal, the recovered Mware cleared off the line.
Mazivisa then headed wide six minutes later before his best chance arrived.
With Vheremu and Zephaniah Ngodzo at sixes and sevens, Masocha found Mazivisa in the box and the leading scorer headed over Dube, but the ball agonisingly came off the cross bar. An offside against Shabanie did not go down well with spectators and fans rained missiles onto the pitch, while others sang “Asiagate” in reference to some of the players likely to be banned.
In response, Platinum fans broke into a celebratory tone six minutes before the end as their players defended for dear life for a semi-final spot against Monomotapa.
The night transformed into celebration for both winners and losers. Platinum celebrated at their usual place, while Shabanie fans thronged the new sports bar in town, run by their patron Obert Dube.