BY KEVIN MAPASURE
FC PLATINUM……….(1) 1 SIMBA SC………………… 0
It is only a win of the narrowest of margins, but FC Platinum couldn’t have lost sleep last night after putting up a good show which saw them not only win, but also avoid conceding at home in their first leg match of the final Caf Champions League group stage qualifier against Simba of Tanzania in an empty National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday.
The cardinal rule in two-legged qualifiers is to make sure you do not concede a goal at home and in that regard coach Norman Mapeza was pleased.
Others felt a healthier goal margin would have done FC Platinum a world of good. True, but there was that big risk of letting in a goal in pursuing a second one.
That would have been disastrous for the miners and they will be confident that they have a result that they can work with against a determined Simba side.
Perfect Chikwende could have given his side the second goal late in the second half, but after breaching the Simba defence, he was thwarted by goalkeeper Claytous Chama in a one-on-one situation.
The fluffed opportunities could not even deny him the man of the match recognition for he scored the solitary goal that separated the two sides in the first half after perfectly picking his spot before sending the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
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Never mind the goal, he was just a marvel to watch as he fought from every angle everything hurrying and hustling the defenders all day.
They surely will be talking about him in the Tanzanians’ camp when they start putting together a plan for the return leg.
Let not the result fool anyone though.
This was a match any side could have won.
Simba created an avalanche of chances, but a combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing on the other end made sure in the end FC Platinum got what they had set out to achieve.
Mithumba Kope had two wonderful opportunities to get his team on the scoresheet, but on 72nd minute, he mistimed his run and strayed into offside position and after putting the ball into the back of the net, he soon had head in hands after glancing at the second assistant who had his flag up.
In stoppage time, he was presented with a free header opportunity as his side probed, but his effort cleared the cross bar.
Moments after FC Platinum had scored on the 17th minute, Luis Miquissome missed the target by inches and his effort had the few privileged spectators hissing.
Simba should have taken the lead on the sixth minute in a spell they dominated possession, but Hassan Dilunga was denied by FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari after motoring into the box.
FC Platinum will be pleased that after going on the back foot in the first quarter of the match, they managed to control the game till the end.
They had good moments, but they seemed content with a 1-0 lead or rather they were not going to risk conceding.
Chances presented themselves, but they couldn’t take them.
Both teams will agree after the outcome of the first leg that the second leg will even be tougher.
Of course, Simba will look to launch an attack of some demonic intensity, but Mapeza is a master of clean sheets.
And with such weaponry as they have in Chikwende, it would come as no surprise if FC Platinum got a goal or more on Simba’s turf.
Teams FC Platinum: P Mhari, G Mbweti, G Bello, L Mhlanga, W Stima (T Chikore 68), K Madzongwe, B Banda, R Pavari, R Kutsanzira (D Dzvinyai 93), P Chikwende, S Ngala (R Kawondera)
Simba SC: C Chama, S Kapembe, M Hullini, J Onyango, P Wawa, J Mkude, E Nyoni (M Yassin 46), H Dilunga (M Atauman 75), M Kagere (M Kope 46), L Miquinssome (R Bwalya 64)
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinMapasure