CHAMPIONS FC Platinum opened a four-point lead at the summit of the Premier Soccer League log table following a victory over Harare City in a rescheduled match played at Mandava Stadium yesterday.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Never Tigere and Perfect Chikwende scored in either half to ensure the Zvishavane-side collect maximum points.
The platinum miners moved to 35 points, four ahead of second-placed Caps United and five adrift of Chicken Inn who are third on the table and have a game in hand.
FC Platinum might not be hitting the heights from last year when they had amassed 45 points at this stage of the season, but with the chasing pack dropping points at almost every turn, the champions look to be cruising to their third straight league title.
Yesterday they produced one of their best performances of the season as they dazzled Harare City with a fast-flowing passing game, with the Harare side sitting deep in their own half and looking to hit back on the counter.
For a team that just arrived into the country on Monday from a taxing trip to Malawi where they played Nyasa Big Bullets in the Caf Champions League at the weekend, the players’ high levels of energy throughout the match was impressive.
The hosts pressed high up the pitch and hunted down for every loose ball and their efforts paid dividends on the half hour mark when Tigere beat the Harare City offside trap to slot home from a pin-point pass from Rainsome Pavari.
Second half substitute Chikwende then killed the game on 78 minutes when he scored with a powerful strike from inside the box, following a neat interchange of passes that involved Pavari and Tigere.
Harare City never looked threatening with their midfield struggling to carve out clean balls to their lone striker Martin Vengesayi, who was also tightly-monitored by Gift Bello.
FC Platinum gaffer Norman Mapeza heaped praise on his charges.
“I am happy because we managed to collect three points,” Mapeza said.
“The win is good for us considering that we are just coming from a difficult match in Malawi. We kept our shape and in the second half created so many chances. I am happy with such improvements in the team. This win is important as far as building morale in the team.”
His counterpart Mark Mathe whose future at the club is looking increasingly uncertain with each passing day, was disappointed with the outcome.
“We stifled FC Platinum, but I think we were also very naïve. I also feel we could have scored from the chances that we created. In the second half, we ended up opening up and I must admit that we created few chances than FC Platinum than what we did in the first half. In fact it’s FC Platinum who created most of the chances,” Mathe a
“I am worried about the mistakes we committed today, the difference was that they took advantage of the mistakes and I think that was the turning point of the game from the onset and against the current champions and a team playing in the Champions League, I cannot fault my players,” he said.
The defeat means City are winless in their last seven matches and are now one rung above the relegation zone. Alarm bells are ringing loud in their camp.
Meanwhile, Triangle continued with their winning ways after beating Ngezi Platinum Stars 1-0 at Baobab Stadium yesterday to take their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
The Taurai Mangwiro-coached have recorded six wins in that impressive run including the 5-0 battering of Rukinzo of Burundi in a Caf Confederations Cup match at the weekend.
Triangle’s victory ended Ngezi Platinum Stars’ own 10-match unbeaten streak.