BY HENRY MHARA
RODWELL Dhlakama believes his Ngezi Platinum Stars side and FC Platinum are a level above the rest of the top-flight league teams and predicts an exciting match when the two teams meet in the Chibuku Super Cup final early next month.
The December 4 finale will be played at a venue yet to be announced.
“The fact that we are in the final means a lot about the depth and the quality in our ranks, both FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars,” Dhlakama told NewsDay Sport yesterday.
The two well-resourced sides were in the same pool in the group stages of the competition and managed to cancel out each other on the two occasions that they met.
“We were in the same group (with FC Platinum) and that speaks volumes of the pedigree of the teams which were pitted in that group.”
After finishing second in the group, Ngezi Platinum Stars went on to beat Chicken Inn in the quarter-finals before slaying giant killers Cranborne Bullets at a waterlogged National Sports Stadium on Saturday to book their place in the finals.
On-fire striker Bruno Mtigo scored the only goal for the match, which took his goal tally in the competition to an incredible seven.
“I’m elated, excited to be in the finals. I’m happy for the boys and the supporters. I’m also happy for the management of the team because they are very supportive. They always look after the players very well. The community is happy, and everyone is excited,” Dhlakama said.
It’s the second time he will be taking charge of the team in the Chibuku Super Cup final, having lost in 2019 to Highlanders in controversial circumstances.
“The last time we played in this competition, we lost in the final and everyone knows what happened. It’s now water under the bridge for me and for the players. We are looking forward to this final,” he said.
“We are working hard as a team. There is enthusiasm, determination and fighting spirit. We are fighting in every game and competition that we enter into. We always want to do well.”
He also praised young Mtigo for his exploits, where he is the leading top goalscorer in the competition.
“Mtigo has been doing well, but we always believe in teamwork. He is scoring goals and has taken us this far. It’s no secret that he is a good player, he is young and he is still learning. I want him to continue excelling and do well in the future.”
FC Platinum have been almost flawless in the competition so far, finishing top in their group.
They got the better of Highlanders in the quarters, and then needed extra time to subdue Dynamos in the semis on Sunday, ending the Harare giants’ 12-match unbeaten run in the process.
Midfielder Innocent Mucheneka scored a screamer from a freekick to secure a win for the Zvishavane side.
Their coach Norman Mapeza refused to comment about the final and said he would only do so when he knows where it would be played.
“I can only talk about it when I know exactly where we are going to play the game. For now, I’m going to concentrate on what is going to happen next week (in the league),” he said.
The two teams’ progress to the finals country’s biggest cup competition only but helped strengthen many people’s assertions that the two platinum cousins are in the league of their own and will likely rival each other in the fight for the league title this term.
Ngezi put five past Bulawayo City in their season opening fixture, while FC Platinum hit WhaWha for six.
Dhlakama’s side is away to Highlanders in the league on Sunday, while FC Platinum host Chicken Inn on Saturday in matchday two round of fixtures.
FC Platinum have dominated the league in the past few years, while Ngezi Platinum Stars are still looking for their first ever championship in the topflight.
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