NORMAN Mapeza’s 100th game in charge of FC Platinum turned out to be an occasion to savour after his side beat Shabanie Mine in a spellbinding Zvishavane Derby at Mandava Stadium yesterday, to shoot top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table.
BY HENRY MHARA IN ZVISHAVANE
FC PLATINUM……………… (0) 2
SHABANIE MINE……………… 0
An improved second half display saw Rodwell Chinyengetere, putting the hosts into a deserved lead on the 62nd minute before striker Mkhokeli Dube, who had missed a sitter in the first half, ensured maximum points 15 minutes later.
The result saw the miners rising from third position to top of the log after their rivals in the title race, Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum, were held to draws in their respective matches.
Yesterday’s result means that FC Platinum will be crowned league champions for the first time since promotion in 2011 if they can win their remaining five matches.
While that objective looks achievable Mapeza remained modest.
“I’m not worried about going top of the log at the moment. The most important thing for us is to keep fighting, pushing and see what happens come end of the season. Our aim is continue winning games. I know the pressure that comes when you are on top of the log, so I don’t want to think much about that. We just have to win our games.”
Shabanie Mine saw their five-match unbeaten run explode and they remain in the relegation zone.
Club coach Takesure Chiragwi was disappointed by the result, especially after dominating possession in the first half, but he vowed his side will not be relegated.
While the prelude to the game was celebratory for FC Platinum who presented Mapeza with a memento just before the match kicked off, he looked frustrated as Shabanie Mine, backed by their noisy supporters, controlled proceedings in a frenetic opening minutes.
However, Bvaru Bvaru never really troubled FC Platinum goalkeeper Wallace Magalane.
When the first opportunity finally availed itself, it came in the home side after 27 minutes when Dube found himself face to face with the goalkeeper Petros Moyo, who produced a super save to block the striker’s shot from a metre out.
Referee Nkosana Nduna then gave the home side two controversial decisions in free-kicks around the Shabanie box, but were both wasted.
In the dying moments of the thrilling first half, the away side had two good chances with Farai Mupasiri causing havoc, but still the deadlock couldn’t be broken.
The former Dynamos striker was hacked down inside the box by Magalane, and with the Shabanie Mine faithful up and expecting Nduna to point to the spot, the referee blew for offside.
Platinum defender Elvis Moyo was also lucky to escape with a yellow card after a stud-up challenge on Tinashe Mupumha right at the death of an eventful first half.
Mapeza made a double substitution early in the second half, introducing Ali Sadiki and Gerald Takwara, changes that completely changed the game, as the home side took control of the match. They took a deserved lead when defender Nyasha Mpofu allowed a long ball to bounce in front of him and Chinyengetere pounced to run clear before side footing past Moyo, a goal that torched wild celebrations in the FC Platinum corner.
Mapeza’s men searched for an insurance goal and after missing some chances, Dube doubled the advantage when he got to an end of a Takwara lay-off to blast home.
Mapeza’s men saw off the match in relative comfort to take their points tally to 59, two shy of what they achieved the whole of last season.
FC Platinum: W Magalane, I Nekati, G Bello, K Moyo, E Moyo, W Mhango, R Chinyengetere (R Muduviwa, 70′), B Amidu (G Takwara, 53′), H Bakacheza (A Sadiki, 53′), C Sibanda, M Dube
Shabanie Mine: P Moyo, J Nyabinde (B Mtigo, 80′), B Mukundu, W Mapfumo, N Mpofu, T Chigede (D Chivandire, 71′), F Mupasiri, T Ajana (T Mavhunga, 81′), T Mupumha, T Chimoyo, W Taderera.