FC Platinum squandered a golden chance to strengthen their position at the top of the log standings after they were held by a resilient Harare City at Rufaro Stadium in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match both teams were desperate to win for distinctively different reasons.
BY HENRY MHARA
HARARE CITY………… 0
Had the platinum miners won, it could have seen them going four points clear at the top, with their rivals in the title race Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum clashing this afternoon at Baobab Stadium.
But, just like they did at exactly this stage of the campaign last season, the Norman Mapeza-coached side bulked under pressure and dropped crucial points.
They lost this fixture 2-1 last season to City, with five games to go when they were neck-and-neck with Caps at the top of the log, and the consequences proved to be catastrophic in the end as they went on to lose the title to the Green Machine by just two points.
Yesterday, they picked up a point which Mapeza, in his post-match comments, said was a good point, although on reflection, he will know that it was two points dropped, especially if the match between Dynamos and Ngezi produces a winner.
It was an honest assessment by the coach whose side dominated the first half and would have been out of sight by the time the halftime whistle sounded had they utilised their chances.
In the second half, they had to ride on luck against a team who had the better of chances, one which FC Platinum defender Gift Bello had to desperately clear off the line from a Malvin Gaki shot while goalkeeper Wallace Magalane blocked a Martin Vengesai shot from a one-on-one situation.
“It was a good game. In the first half, we were in control of everything and we had some good opportunities to get a goal, but it didn’t happen,” Mapeza assessed.
“In the second half, I think Harare City had their moments as well, they created some good opportunities and twice my goalkeeper saved us.
“We won’t lose focus because we have drawn today. We are still okay; there are still four games to play so you never know what will happen. We have to keep believing. For us it’s a point gained, but because we are top of the log, some people might say its two points lost, but if I have to be honest, we could have lost this match. I think the league will be won in the last game.”
Harare City were desperate to win to ease their relegation worries, and while they couldn’t get maximum points, the point gained in a match many expected them to be battered, saw them moving four points clear of the relegation cut-off point, for 24 hours at least.
City coach Philani Ncube, while lamenting the chances that his players missed, acknowledged his side were lucky, with FC Platinum also missing good chances and denied by the cross bar.
“They were all over us in the first half, it wasn’t a pleasant situation. We knew they would come at us, and we were going to resist so we said to ourselves if we can go to halftime 0-0, chances are high that we will come out with a point or three points. We were unlucky we couldn’t score from the three or four chances that we created and we were also lucky that they hit the post, so I think we were just supposed to share the spoils,” Ncube said.
Harare City: T Munditi, H Chapusha, R Uchena, E Madhananga, P Tshuma, J Tigere, T Samanja, M Gaki (L Muyambo, 80′), P Kabwe, M Vengesai, J Chipangura (W Muvirimi, 46′)
FC Platinum: W Magalane, I Nekati, G Bello, K Moyo, E Moyo, W Mhango, R Chinyengetere, B Amidu (G Takwara, 60′), H Bakacheza (A Sadiki, 43′), C Sibanda (H Moyo, 72′), M Dube