FC PLATINUM . . . . . . (1) 2
TRIANGLE . . . . . . . . . 0
JUST like last season, Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum sweetened their title triumph by lifting this season-ending Castle Challenge Cup, with an emphatic victory over a battling Triangle at Mandava Stadium yesterday.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza was forced to make wholesale changes to the squad that drew 1-1 away to CNaPs of Madagascar in the Caf Champions League preliminary round fist leg match, but those given a chance were good enough to get this comfortable win.
This should be a good sign of the kind of depth in Mapeza’s squad as he gives yet another go in the African safari, where his bosses are expecting him to reach at least the group stage.
The crucial return leg against the Malagasy champions is on Wednesday, and this performance should have left Mapeza satisfied and with his team having received the needed confidence booster as they look to progress to the first round.
But yesterday, the champions surged ahead in the 8th minute mark through Gift Mbweti, who connected home a curling free-kick whipped in by talented left back William Stima to beat diving Triangle goalie Tapiwa Chilenga.
For a team that had made a long trip to Antananarivo just a few days ago, they looked jaded after taking the lead.
However, they recovered well in the second half, and exactly four minutes after the restart, they cushioned their lead through striker Thomas Chideu, the former Ajax Cape Town scoring his first goal for the Zvishavane side.
It was a well taken goal by the striker, blasting a grounder from inside the box.
While victory here handed Mapeza’s team more bragging rights and a cool $30 000 cash prize, the importance of the win lies in the team’s campaign in the African safari.
“I am very happy for the boys for this success but there is still a lot of football to be played after this match and this is a massive boost,” said Mapeza, who is favourite to win the Coach of the Year award after guiding the club to retain the championship.
Vanquished Triangle gaffer Taurai Mangwiro, who was looking to make a cup double having lifted the Chibuku Super Cup, was left to heap praise on the victors.
“I would want to congratulate FC Platinum for winning this game. Tough luck to us, FC Platinum used their chances and that paid dividends for them,” Mangwiro said.
“We wanted to win this game very much but we failed because of our complacency. We had three good chances early in the first half but we did not utilise them. As a result we were punished for that later on as the game progressed. The game did not go the way we wanted. It has been a fruitful road and I think we deserve to be applauded for coming this far as a team with the hope that the coming seasons will be more fruitful.”
FC Platinum might have had a slow start to the match but still created the better chances early on, and had their strikers been more clinical, they could have won the contest by a bigger margin.
Chideu broke loose just outside the box but his weak effort gave no problem to Chilenga.
Speedy winger Marshal Mudehwe, who clearly lacked match fitness, put his effort over the bar after successfully beating the Triangle offside trap.
The visitors also had their chances and should have gone ahead on the seventh minute but Collin Duwa missed a headed chance with FC Platinum goalkeeper Francis Tizayi well beaten.
Donald Dzvinyai and Russel Madamombe both hit the woodwork, as a goal proved elusive for the Lowveld side.
FC Platinum were virtually chasing shadows in the midfield for the better part of the first half with the pair of Devon Chafa and Kelvin Moyo struggling to contain the pair of Duwa and Ralph Kawondera.
Triangle had a late chance to get a goal when Phineas Bamusi and Ralph Kawondera were involved in a neat interplay that caught the platinum miners flat footed. However, the former’s final effort at goal was tame.
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, J Mukombwe, L Mhlanga, K Moyo (C Sibanda, 69’), W Stima, K Madzongwe, D Chafa (M Dube, 90’), N Tigere (F Madhanhanga, 75’), M Mudehwe, T Chideu, G Mbweti.
Triangle: T Chilenga, T Mugoniwa (A Chivandire, 66’), A Chiveya, D Dzvinyai, R Kawondera, K Chigwida, T Huwa (P Manhanga, 46’), R Madamombe, P Bamusi, C Dhuwa, S Makoni (L Nhamo, 51’).