HARARE CITY……… (0) 1
CHAMPIONS FC Platinum’s chances of defending their title took a knock after they were beaten by a well-organised Harare City at Rufaro Stadium yesterday.
BY HENRY MHARA
With the defeat, coupled with Ngezi Platinum Stars’ win over Shabanie, the Zvishavane side’s lead at the top was trimmed to just a point.
A 48th minute spot-kick converted by Moses Muchenje proved the difference in this exciting encounter played at a frenetic tempo.
The penalty was awarded after goalkeeper Wallace Magalane had needlessly impeded Martin Vengesai, who had his back on goal.
Despite the lead being significantly cut, FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza was unfazed.
“We are still on top (and) that point, if we can protect it by winning our remaining matches, we might win the league. So the most important thing for us now is to maintain our concentration levels and focus on our remaining games.”
Mapeza said Magalane should have done better to avoid the penalty. “It was a poor decision by the goalkeeper because the ball was going wide. The goalkeeper was supposed to block Vengesai. There was no chance he could have turned and shot from that angle,” Mapeza said.
The win by Harare City was their first in six attempts, having drawn four and lost one of their last five matches and that made coach Mark Harrison a relieved man.
“The win was important, not because it was against FC Platinum, but it’s important because we got back on track. The last couple of performances have just been inept and the team has been questioned. But we came up with an answer today. The players showed big character and in a way showed how football should be played.”
Going into the match, FC Platinum were favourites to collect maximum points against a team that is going through its worst run of the season.
Moreover, the log leaders had won the reverse fixture comfortably, but it was the home side that enjoyed plenty of possession in this clash of two teams that love to keep the ball.
Both teams wasted some good opportunities in the first half before Harare City were presented with a good chance to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty after Magalane needlessly cluttered into Vengesai, who was moving away from goal.
The referee pointed to the spot and Muchenje, clearly, the best man on the pitch, stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a cool tuck-in.
Mapeza needed to respond and he made a tactical switch, pulling off his target man Albert Eonde who was largely ineffective for midfielder Never Tigere and pushed Rodwell Chinyengetere upfront. He also threw in forwards Farai Mupasiri and Thomas Chideu to try and get the elusive equaliser.
It was defender Gift Bello, though, who almost brought parity when he rose unmarked from a free kick, but headed over.
Things got heated up when Muchenje was elbowed off the ball, and Harrison led his bench to protest to the fourth official, with Mapeza taking exception to the charge, an argument ensued.
Meanwhile, on the pitch, action continued with FC Platinum carrying on with play despite Muchenje lying on the floor.
They almost took the lead from the attack after Raphael Muduviwa’s cross found William Stima on the blind side who inexplicably headed wide from a metre out − further infuriating the home side’s bench.
Inevitably, FC Platinum threw bodies forward in the late stages of the match, but the home side held on for the win.
Harare City: M Nyamupanedengu, H Chapusha, T Chimwemwe, M Muchenje, M Dironyenye, B Chayambuka, L Muyambo, P Tellmore (T Samanja, 73′), I Wadi, M Vengesai (D Chimwemwe, 65′), W Muvirimi (K Musharu, 84′)
FC Platinum: W Magalane, R Muduviwa (T Chideu, 87′), G Bello, K Moyo, W Stima, W Mhango, K Madzongwe (F Mupasiri, 67′), R Chinyengetere, F Madhananga, G Mbweti, A Eonde (N Tigere, 60′)