BY TERRY MADYAUTA
FC PLATINUM . . . . . . (0)1
BLACK RHINOS . . . . . . . 0
CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League defending champions FC Platinum put up a performance full of determination and passion to set themselves up for a third successive title when they beat a gritty Black Rhinos 1-0 at Mandava Stadium yesterday.
With Harare giants Caps United losing 3-2 to Ngezi Platinum, FC Platinum assumed pole position, with a one-point advantage going into the final showdown set for Saturday at the National Sports Stadium, where they will need just a point to claim the main prize of the season.
They moved to 59 points, while Caps United have 58 on their tally.
Devon Chafa scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot.
FC Platinum came into the game needing maximum points to set up a grand finale against the Green Machine on Saturday.
Pure Platinum Play, as they are affectionately known, enjoyed better chances in the initial stages of the match, with Never Tigere and Rodwell Chinyengetere both getting foiled by goalkeeper Blessing Mwandimutsira.
Tigere continued to carve out good chances for his teamamtes, who took turns to spurn them.
The visitors struggled to fashion out real chances in the first period.
However, Wellington Taderera almost inflicted pain on the platinum miners at the resumption of the second half with a sizzling grounder, but the ball missed the target by inches.
The army side them crumbled following a massive onslaught from the platinum miners, which resulted in a penalty after Melvin Mekiwa handled the ball in the box.
The Rhinos technical team invaded the pitch in protest, but referee Hardly Ndazi stood by his decision, as coaches Lizwe Sweswe (FC Platinum) and Herbert Maruwa (Black Rhinos) threw verbal jabs at each other, which almost degenerated into a fistfight.
Nevertheless, Chafa calmly converted the spot kick on the 62nd minute mark after a six-minute stoppage.
Rhinos blew their chances of restoring parity when they were awarded a penalty on the 78 minute mark when Moses Demera’s effort crashed against the upright.
Sweswe was elated by the win.
“This was nervous, but the boys played to the best of their abilities. We controlled our nerves throughout the game and I must confess that I was relieved at the end. I am now hoping that the boys grind a result on Sunday,” he said.
Maruwa insinuated that the officiating was biased.
“Both teams had a good game, but someone came and spoiled it. The fans enjoyed it from the start,” he said.
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, G bello, W Stima, T Chikore, D Chafa, K Madzongwe (G Mbweti 50), R Chinyengetere, G Nsiala (Rainsome Pavari 90), P Chikwende, R Muduviwa, N Tigere.
Black Rhinos: B Mwandimbutsira, J Mukombwe, F Banda, B Homora, M Mekiwa, M Demera, K Nyakudenga (W Kapinda 46), M Mukumba, L Murape, W Taderera, E Chigiji