IT’S difficult to anticipate just how long FC Platinum’s dominance on the local scene can continue after they clinched the title in the just-ended season, for their back-to-back league titles.
BY HENRY MHARA/TERRY MADYAUTA
Two years ago, Dynamos pushed the platinum miners all the way, failing by just two points.
This year, it was the turn of Ngezi Platinum Stars to offer a challenge and looked good to do that for the better part of the season.
But the Mhondoro-Ngezi side, which itself is powered by the wealth from platinum, inevitably fell aside in the season’s latter stages.
In the end, the gap between FC Platinum and their main challenger this term was a mammoth 13 points.
FC Platinum’s star player Rodwell Chinyengetere is odds on favourite to retain the Soccer Star of the Year award.
The winner will be announced next week, with the FC Platinum midfielder nominated as one of the finalists together with teammates Farai Madhanaga and Kelvin Moyo.
The team provided the bulk of players on this year’s finalists with three, and their coach Norman Mapeza (pictured) is expected to retain the Coach of the Year award.
It represented total dominance and a seemingly comfortable glide towards building a dynasty by a side promoted to the top-flight league not so long ago.
A runners-up medal in their debut season in 2011 was followed up by a seventh finish in the following season, forcing the team to go back to the proverbial drawing board.
In the following two seasons in 2013 and 2014, they achieved fourth position on both occasions.
In 2015, they moved a rung up, before returning to collect a silver medal again in 2016. What followed since then is history.
Their rise to the top has been positively gradual, and their success can be put down to smart, deliberate planning and pure level of organisation within the structure of the club.
Rivals are beginning to wonder how they will be able to stop this juggernaut.
“They are relying largely on being resourced, which means they get any player they want by virtue of outbidding other teams,” Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigowe, who has been tasked by his club to stop the FC Platinum dominance, said.
Dynamos, big as they are, don’t possess the wealth enjoyed by the platinum miners and other corporate-sponsored teams such as Chicken Inn and Triangle.
The corporate-sponsored teams have always used resources as bait to attract top players.
“Its not only the two platinum teams, there is also Triangle, and newboys Manica Diamonds, but we take solace in the fact that there are teams like [English Premier League club] Tottenham Hotspurs, who are not very active on the transfer market, but have identified very talented players and are being competitive. And that is the model we seek to follow,” Chigowe added.
“We will definitely bring quality into the team. I have already started the process of identifying and bringing in players. Some of them are top-class, some of them
experienced and some are young, but very talented. I have my scouts on the ground who have helped me identify some good players and I also have my own players that I have identified. If we do things fairly, we will always come up with a very strong Dynamos side. People should expect a robust and a competitive Dynamos in 2019.”
Chicken Inn, champions in 2015, are also desperate to arrest the FC Platinum dominance.
Coach Joey Antipas believes he is building a squad that is good enough to compete against the champions.
“We cannot let them create a dynasty while we are watching. There has not been that much competition in our league. I agree that the platinum-owned teams have been too good at the level of competition we have at the moment,” he said.
“They are heavily invested projects and they can have as many players as they want because of their financial muscle. But I have also been preparing a strong team, which I believe is going to be a force to reckon with starting next season. We are hired to win league titles, and not watch others win big.”
Chicken Inn looked to be in the title matrix in the first half of the season, but eventually ran out of steam on the homestretch, eventually finishing a distant third.
“I think with the team I have, we have one thing in common. We all want to transform the hunger we have into success. We have one title in our cabinet and we are delighted about it, but there is a still a lot of ambition within the squad to do more. I am confident to say that next season is going to be about us winning something,” Antipas said.
But until Chicken Inn, Dynamos and other league teams can be more organised, smart, and compete on and off the pitch, Pure Platinum Play are guaranteed to rule the local scene for the conceivable future.