NGEZI Platinum Stars coach Rodwell Dhlakama has backed FC Platinum to win the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title ahead of Caps United who they (FC Platinum) meet tomorrow at the National Sports Stadium in the championship decider.
BY HENRY MHARA
FC Platinum moved top of the log standings on Wednesday after beating Black Rhinos at Mandava Stadium, dislodging Caps, whose chances were blown away by Dhlakama’s men at Baobab Stadium.
With 59 points, one better than Caps, FC Platinum will need just a draw to take the title, while their opponents require an outright win to wrest the championship from the clutches of the platinum miners.
Dhlakama believes FC Platinum have the “pedigree” to get the draw they require to retain the title that they have won in the last two seasons.
“Given the pedigree that FC Platinum has, I think they have a slight advantage. They have been there in the last two seasons winning the league and also playing in the Caf Champions League. That experience and exposure in the African safari gives them an edge. But football being football, I don’t really know what will happen, but I will give the advantage to FC Platinum,” he said.
Dhlakama noted that Caps could be suffering under the weight of expectations, with pressure weighing down heavily on their players. He also noted that the injuries to key players in the Caps camp had crippled them, based on the hugely disappointing performance they produced on Wednesday. The Green Machine were unrecognisable as they gave perhaps their worst performance of the season, and only came to life in the last 10 minutes of the match. They managed to score two goals in that decent spell, and the scoreline will obviously flatter them.
“Inasmuch as they scored two goals in the last 10 minutes of the game, it was also very difficult for them to win it. We could also have scored another goal in the closing stages, when James Nguluve missed a one versus one, and also Donald Teguru missing a one versus one. It could have been embarrassing scoreline for them if we had taken many of our chances because we could have scored six or even seven today (Wednesday). But I’m wishing them all the best in their next game,” Dhlakama said.
Caps United’s dismal performance was probably due to the absence of key players in defence because of injuries.
Justice Jangano did not make the trip to Mhondoro Ngezi while his partner Lincoln Zvasiya and rightback Valentine Musarurwa were both substituted after picking injuries.
Caps coach Darlington Dodo described the injuries as “very bad,” and the trio are a major doubt for tomorrow’s match. For that reason, Dhlakama thinks Caps will not stand a chance.
“Caps are struggling at the back, and their makeshift defence didn’t play really well today. I don’t know if Lincoln Zvasiya and his partner (Justice Jangano) will be able to recover in time because the game is too close. It will be very difficult for them if they play that game without that ammunition, but like I said, you never know with football. They might win, but it would be very difficult for them. Personally, I think FC Platinum will win.”
Veteran defender Method Mwanjale and defensive midfielder Kudzanai Nyamupfukudza are out for the season for Caps.
In fact, Dodo will have just 14 in-field players to choose from in tomorrow’s match.