BY HENRY MHARA
Mushowani STARS . . . . . (1)2
FC PLATINUM . . . . . . . . . . … (1)2
Champions FC Platinum’s perfect start to their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title defence was ended yesterday by a disciplined Mushowani Stars, with the newcomers putting up a strong resistance all through.
The Zvishavane side, who won their first two games of the season in fine style, largely dominated against the Division One winners at Rufaro Stadium, but still had to come from behind to earn a point.
Elvis Moyo, who scored in this stadium in his team’s last visit to Harare, gave FC Platinum the lead with a well-taken goal, with his grass-cutter from outside the box,
skidding past Mushowani goalkeeper Hamilton Makainganwa into the left bottom corner on 37 minutes.
The Newman Mashipe-coached side levelled matters five minutes later through a controversial penalty awarded after the ball accidentally hit FC Platinum defender Gift Bello.
A pass from goalkeeper Petros Mhari took an awkward bounce and landed on Bello’s hand, which was on its natural position, but the referee pointed to the spot.
Former Ngezi Platinum Stars Evans Katema blasted the resultant kick straight down the middle to beat Mhari who dived to his left.
Then against the run of play, Blessing Phiri nodded the home side in front with a header at the back post, connecting a cross from the impressive substitute Davis Kamanga on 66 minutes.
But their celebrations were short-lived, as FC Platinum immediately hit back with their very next attack just a minute later.
A cross was whipped into the box by Godknows Murwira and Never Tigere rose unmarked to power a header past Makainganwa.
Both sides pushed for a winner in the remainder of the game, but apart from a couple of half chances, another goal never really looked likely to come.
The result left the league champions two points behind joint log leaders Chicken Inn and Hwange, who share the top spot with nine points.
FC Platinum host Hwange in their next league match at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
In his post-match interview, FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza said he would take the point, although he feels his side could have done better.
“It was a good game. We had had our moments where, I thought we were a better team, but what changed the course of game was the penalty. The time they got it, it really changed
everything, with only six minutes to the break. They (Mushowani) were waiting for us and trying to hit us on the counter and three or four times they nearly caught us. Then in
the second half, we didn’t create good chances, so we just need to work more in the final third in terms of creativity. But well done to the boys, we need to go back and prepare for a game against Hwange,” Mapeza said.
Mushowani came into the game in search of their first win of the campaign after two defeats in their opening two games of the season against Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum Stars,
but Mashipe will be encouraged by his team’s battling display against their highly rated opponent.
“I am very happy, it’s a relief for me and the bosses and the whole Mushowani family. We managed to get our first point against the champions, a good team with quality players and a good coach as well,” Mashipe said.
H Makainganwa, C Muvuti, G Bvundira, E Mafirenyika, D Melusi, W Tafa, C Dzingai, B Phiri, T Mutandi (J Tulani, 72′), L Matawu (D Kamanga, 58′), E Katema
P Mhari, G Murwira, G Bello, K Moyo, E Moyo, D Chafa, R Pavari, N Tigere, A Sadiki, G Mbweti (A Eonde, 85′), L Nhamo (C Sibanda, 62′)