A SOLITARY goal was all Ngezi Platinum Stars needed to get the vital points and return to the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table to shape an exciting climax to the race.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The platinum miners will be the first to admit that they were given a hard time by relegated Bantu Rovers at Luveve Stadium yesterday.
Donald Teguru easily pushed the ball into the nets from inside the penalty box two minutes before the break following a defensive mix-up with goalkeeper Wellington Muuya off his line while his centre-back Dumisani Ndlovu failed to clear his lines.
Ngezi Platinum retained the top spot with 63 points ahead of FC Platinum who have the same number of points, but an inferior goal difference after Norman Mapeza’s side pummelled ZPC Kariba 3-0 at Mandava on Saturday.
Dynamos also reclaimed the third spot after a late goal to beat Chapungu at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
DeMbare are on 61 points with Chicken Inn on 59 after condemning Tsholotsho to Division One at Barbourfields Stadium on Friday.
But like Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya had predicted, it was always going to be tough against Bantu Rovers, who had nothing to lose and they played one of their best games in the season although they failed to get a goal.
“We knew it was going to be difficult, especially to psyche the players after the good performance against Dynamos,” Ndiraya said.
“It was very difficult for us today, but what is important is the three points we got. These youngsters gave us a tough time. They showed a high level of professionalism by fighting throughout the match. We will push on, three points is what we wanted today and we got those. We wanted to get goals so that we improve on our goal difference, but these guys gave us a good run.”
Midfielder Xolisani Moyo had to be pulled out through injury in the 75th minute and was taken to hospital with Ndiraya saying he suspected injury to the ribs.
The visitors could have scored just after the half hour mark, but striker Clive Augusto’s back-heeler inside the box was cleared for a corner by Ndlovu, while Qadir Amini’s trademark long-range shot in the 77th minute sailed over the bar.
Bantu Rovers coach Methembe Ndlovu said they were punished for a silly mistake at the back and predicted a sensational finish for the teams at the top.
“We gave it our best. We made a mistake at the back and we were punished for it. They are quite a strong team. We were our worst enemy in terms of the goal that we conceded. I don’t know who is playing who next, but it is going to be an exciting finish to the race,” Ndlovu said.
Bantu Rovers: W Muuya, K Dzingwe (M Bhebhe 88′), L Ncube, D Ndlovu, N Garayi, T Kumbuyani, L Ndlela, S Nyahwa, N Papias, M Dube, B Ncube
Ngezi Platinum: T Mawaya, D Tavari, T Machisa, Q Amini, L Chakoroma, X Moyo (K Murera 75′), G Murwira, W Mukanga, T Mabvura (J Nguluve 52′), C Augusto (W Pakamisa 86′), D Teguru