Ngezi Platinum Stars yesterday dropped a bombshell by announcing the departure of coach Tonderai Ndiraya from the club with just five matches left in the 2018 season as the club fights for the league title against leaders FC Platinum.
BY Kevin Mapasure
The Mhondoro-Ngezi-based side are just five points behind FC Platinum as they target their maiden league title.
Having reduced the gap between them and FC Platinum to just two points after a midweek round of matches last week, Ngezi fell back five points adrift after they lost to basement side Bulawayo City, which was the final straw that saw the ambitious team’s management cut Ndiraya loose.
Club secretary-general Cloete Munjoma released a statement yesterday announcing the new development.
Ndiraya has been replaced by Clifton Kadurira, who was his assistant.
Before Ndiraya arrived, Kadurira was in charge of the team and was relegated to the post of assistant coach after a poor run of form.
“Ngezi Platinum Stars FC wish to announce the departure of coach Tonderai Ndiraya from the team through a mutual separation agreement,” the statement read. “Tonderai Ndiraya joined Ngezi Platinum FC when the team was promoted to the Premier League. Tonderai led the team to finish off a respectable seventh position as well as clinching the Chibuku Super Cup trophy in his second year; the team finished the season in the top four of the Premier Soccer League. The board and management would like to thank Tonderai Ndiraya for his commitment to the team for the past two and half years. We have no doubt that he will continue to succeed as a young coach and we wish him the best in his future endeavours.”
The club did not disclose why the coach was dismissed, but it seems they had lost any hope of winning the title under his stewardship.
This season, Ngezi Platinum Stars have lost seven matches, and four of the defeats came against teams in the bottom half of the league.
They lost to Bulawayo City and Mutare City, who are both destined for Division One, while they also suffered defeats to Yadah and Bulawayo Chiefs, two of the several teams battling to stay afloat.
Their only home defeat came against title rivals FC Platinum, while they also lost to Black Rhinos and Herentals.
Ngezi Platinum Stars were also bundled out of the Chibuku Super Cup by Herentals.
They still have five matches to play this season and will be hoping for FC Platinum slip ups, while they will be looking to win their matches, three of which are at home against Chapungu, Bulawayo Chiefs and Black Rhinos,.
They still have tough away trips where they will play Black Rhinos and FC Platinum as they bid to win the league title.
Ngezi Platinum Stars invested heavily in both the players and other resources during Ndiraya’s spell where they brought in several big name players, including some from top teams such as Dynamos and Caps United.
But despite building such a strong squad, the league title has been elusive, with the team finishing third last season.
They also played in the Confederation of African Football Cup where they were eliminated in the first round.
Just before the season started, Ndiraya admitted that the target this term was to win the league title since they had gone close last season.
Ndiraya survived the chop after presiding over a four-match losing streak between June and July, and only managed to save his skin after he halted the rot with a win over Triangle.
During their title tussle with FC Platinum, Ngezi Platinum Stars have been accused of wasting opportunities to close in on their rivals, faltering each time an opportunity presented itself.