HIGHLANDERS . . . . . .(1) 1
NGEZI PLATINUM . . . . (1) 2
NGEZI Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya was left an elated man after watching his charges grind a crucial victory over Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday to stay within touching distance with log leaders FC Platinum.
BY SAKHELENI NXUMALO
A goal in each half by Michael Charamba and stand-in captain Godknows Murwira ensured that Ngezi remain just four points behind their fellow platinum miners with nine games remaining in the season.
Ndiraya’s men, who lost to Mutare City last week, have 54 points, while defending champions FC Platinum are on 58. Highlanders’ only goal came from Gabriel Nyoni.
After the pulsating encounter that had fans at the edge of their seats for almost the entire match, Ndiraya described his team’s victory as very important in their championship
“It was a very tough match considering that we were coming from a defeat against what is considered a small team and that had put us under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“I thought it was a balanced game, but I must admit that at times, Highlanders were on top of us, but at the end of the day, what matters is that we collected maximum points.”
The visitors raced into the lead as early as the second minute courtesy of the hard-running Charamba, who received a pass inside the Highlanders penalty area, turned and rifled home from an acute angle for the opening goal of the match.
Their lead was short-lived though, as Nyoni pulled one back two minutes later, when he latched onto a spill by Ngezi Platinum Stars keeper Donovan Bernard, who failed to hold on to a long range effort by Highlanders midfielder Adrian Silla.
There wasn’t much goal-mouth action after those early goals and the two teams went to the break on level terms.
Murwira then won the game for his side with a well-taken free kick that deceived Highlanders keeper Ariel Sibanda.
Sibanda was left clutching thin air after the ball bounced in front of him and hit the underside of the cross bar before going into the net.
Highlanders technical manager Madinda Ndlovu described his team’s loss as a huge blow to their campaign.
“It is a big blow not only to us as a team, but also to the Highlanders family as we were not expecting this kind of result,” he said.
“Of course, we conceded early, but we had come back into the game but there are moments like this in football that you can’t explain.”
Highlanders: A Sibanda, M Phiri, C Siamalonga, P Muduhwa, M Ndlovu, A Silla, B Banda, D Khumalo, G Nyoni, N Makumbe, T Sibanda
Ngezi Platinum Stars: D Bernard, N Ketala, P Moyo, K Bulaji, T Chipunza, K Murera, F Mukarati, M Mushinga, J Nguluve (T Mchisi, 89), M Charamba, G Murwira