BY HENRY MHARA
FC PLATINUM got their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title defence off to a winning start with a comfortable victory over their bogey side, Harare City, at Rufaro Stadium yesterday.
Ali Sadiki opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a short from close range before Elvis Moyo wrapped up the points in the 79th minute to ensure the champions record their first victory over the Sunshine Boys in the capital since 2014.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza was thrilled that his side had finally broken the jinx.
“It’s a massive three points for us. We always struggle every time we come to Harare to play against Harare City, so well done to the boys,” Mapeza said.
Harare City coach Mark Harrison believed his opponents always had an edge in this match since they had been active, participating in the Caf Champions League.
“It was always very difficult for us to play this game. They were sharp and we were all over the field and, quite rightly so, because they have been playing in Caf competitions for the last two to three months. We are just coming off pre-season and it always takes you about four games to get to where you need to be and this is the last game we needed to be playing against FC Platinum. I could have taken anybody else, but them.
“Anyway, I thought we stood up well; we had to manage the game because of the match fitness levels. We gave away a silly goal and, at the end of the day, we know we didn’t deserve to win the match, but I am not sure we deserved to lose 2-nil.”
FC Platinum, who have been active on the African safari, as expected, started brightly, moving the ball with pace. But for all their industry, they were not threatening the home goal.
Perfect Chikwende scuffed his shot from a good distance after Mapeza’s men had curved the Harare City defence open.
Just after the half-hour mark, they took a deserved lead, but from a defensive error.
Defender Ray Uchena was caught napping by a stray pass and his miscued clearance fell invitingly for Sadiki, who shot into the bottom right corner past a stranded Maxwell Nyamupanedengu.
It could have been better for the visitors moments later, when a quick passing move opened the defence again and Chikwende laid the ball to an on-rushing and unmarked Elvis Moyo, who inexplicably blasted the ball over from inside the six yard box.
City barely threatened Petros Mhari’s goal in the first-half, but they almost snatched a goal just before the half-time whistle. However, Marshall Machazane’s shot from a crowded box was cleared off the line. Harare City appeared reinvigorated at the restart and created the better chances, but Mhari was unyielding, producing good saves.
FC Platinum managed to weather the storm and should have increased the lead when Chikwende turned Machazane in and out to go face-to-face with Nyamupanedengu, who blocked the shot on the 72nd minute.
A minute later, Nyamupanedengu made an even better save when a deflected shot by Sadiki appeared to have wrong footed him, but he recovered to scramble across and tipped the ball away.
But there was nothing he could do when Moyo came knocking. The left back galloped forward and got to an end of some good passing move to go clear and finished off neatly with a simple shot past the goalie.
Harare City: M Nyamupanedengu, M Machazane, T Chimwemwe, R Uchena, M Ncube, M Muchenje, M Tavengwa, W Mukanga, I Wadi (W Manondo, 73′), W Muvirimi (K Musharu, 60′), Vengesai (T Tumba, 73′).
FC Platinum: P Mhari, E Moyo, K Moyo, G Bello, E Madzongwe, L Mhlanga, N Tigere (F Madhananga, 58′), Pavari, A Sadiki, R Kutsanzira, P Chikwende