THIS was supposed to be Ngezi Platinum Stars’ biggest test and the most difficult examination of their dominance in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League this far, against former champions Caps United, their bogey side.
BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS United………….. (1) 1
Ngezi Platinum……… (2) 2
But in the end, this was too easy for the Mhondoro Ngezi-based team in a thrilling contest played at the National Sports Stadium.
The scoreline might suggest a closely fought contest, but if the truth be told, the visitors were just better in all aspects of the game.
Tonderai Ndiraya’s men did not just win this match, but did it with a vivacious show of swagger, intensity, and most importantly, the accuracy that he has always demanded.
Even after John Zhuwawu had given the hosts a 27th minute lead from a well-worked goal that involved Simba Nhivi, the visitors didn’t look bothered or petrified.
It was as if they knew that they would get their goals. And the seemingly inevitable equaliser arrived nine minutes later.
Terrence Dzukamanja’s dipping shot kick-started the fightback, before James Ngulube made sure of the points with a rising shot from a rebound just before the halftime whistle, a goal that ensured their unbeaten record stretches to eleven games.
In the post-match media conference, an impressed Ndiraya said: “I’m satisfied. It has been a long time before we beat Caps United. We achieved this through sheer hard work. We always had hope, we always believed that one day we will win against Caps United. We were splendid today. We got more chances than Caps United in the first half.
In the second half we came back a little bit defensive, which is what we wanted. Overally, it was a very good game, which we enjoyed and which the fans also enjoyed.”
Caps United coach Chitembwe was equally frank on his assessment of the game.
“To be honest, I think we were very poor today, we only played in the first 15 minutes and thereafter our backs were on the wall. Our application was very poor, and there were times it appeared as if we were slightly overawed by the occasion. Credit to Ngezi, they did apply themselves well, and they got the two goals and I’m sure they deserved the victory today,” he admitted.
This will go down as probably one of the most entertaining games in the league in recent times, with two exciting teams willing to go at each other.
Chances were aplenty in the frantic opening minutes, with Nhivi failing to connect from a rebound after keeper Bernard Donovan had blocked a shot early on.
It was Dzvukamanja who wasted the first real opportunity when he got to the end of a cross, but his weak left shot was pushed out for a corner.
Keith Murera was allowed to get to an end of the resultant corner kick, fortunately for United, his header went wide.
But the way the home side’s defence was letting the opponents free headers from set pieces should have alarmed Chitembwe and his bench.
However, Ngezi were punished for the misses at the other end. A long ball from deep was expertly controlled by Nhivi, on to the path of Zhuwawu, who blasted home, his shot talking a slight deflection to wrong foot Donovan.
Caps looked to be on the ascendancy with Josta Ngodzo and Denver Mukamba pulling strings in the midfield.
The lead would last only nine minutes though. Ngulube was a nuisance on the right channel, easily getting past defenders. In one of his mazy runs, he skipped past Valentine Musarurwa before crossing for Donald Teguru.
The Ngezi number 10 released Dzvukamanja, who controlled the ball before releasing a shot that looped over Chris Mverechena, in goals for United.
The visitors took the lead right at the end of the first half.
Another free header crashed on to the upright by Marlon Mushonga, and with the defenders guilty of ball watching, Ngulube reacted the quickest to hit the back of the net with a rising shot as Ngezi went to the break well in control.
Chitembwe’s side had a worst possible start to the second half when skipper Stephen Makatuka hobbled off the pitch following a pulled muscle.
Second half substitute Michael Charamba’s speed caused havoc for Caps’ defence and his efforts deserved a goal.
He went close to getting one when he raced clear on 73rd minute, picking the ball at the halfway line and accelerated into the box, but his shot was blocked by a sprawling Chris Mverechena.
United threw everything at Ngezi late on, with the exciting Peter “Rio” Moyo initiating most of the moves, but they couldn’t just breach the visitors’ resolute wall well marshalled by an impressive Liberty Chakoroma.
Caps United: C Mverechena, P Tonha (B Muzondiwa, 78′), V Musarurwa, S Makatuka, (J Jangano, 49′), D Dauda, K Nyamupfukudza, J Ngodzo, D Mukamba, (P Moyo, 51′), M Ncube, J Zhuwawu, S Nhivi
Ngezi Platinum Stars: B Donovan, K Bulaji, L Chakoroma, K Murera, M Mushonga, F Mukarati, T Chipunza, J Ngulube (X Moyo, 75′), W Mukanga, (M Charamba, 62′), D Teguru (C Augusto, 60′), T Dzvukamanja