BY HENRY MHARA TONDERAI Ndiraya might be enjoying his best spell as the Dynamos coach, but he is demanding more consistency from his players after they made five wins out of five on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Black Rhinos in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match.
Emmanuel Paga headed the Glamour Boys in front just 50 seconds into the match, an effort which was cancelled out by Blessed Mbavarira from the penalty spot.
But a sensational solo strike late in the match from young Bill Antonio secured three points for Ndiraya’s men to ensure a run of five consecutive wins for the first time in five years.
If they manage to win their next three matches, including a trip to Ngezi Platinum Stars, a home match against Manica Diamonds and away to WhaWha, Ndiraya would have matched the team’s longest winning run in more than 15 years.
DeMbare’s biggest winning run, in recent memory was in 2007 when they managed to stitch together eight straight wins stretching from July 1 when they beat Chapungu 2-0, to September 23 when they overcame the same opponent 1-0 in the reverse fixture. But statistics matter little to Ndiraya.
“If you look at the points that are separating the top five teams, it’s a very small margin, so what is going to come into play is consistency. It’s the issue of consistency that is going to win a team the league,” he said.
“We are concentrating on getting as many points as we can in the first round of matches, then of course be consistent on the flip side when we play the second round of matches. We want to get to the halfway stage of the season among the teams at the top and then have that push towards the finishing line.”
Dynamos had set themselves a target of winning the last five matches, four of which were played at the National Sports Stadium. That goal was achieved in style, scoring 11 goals and conceding just two.
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They started the streak with a 2-0 win over Bulawayo Chiefs, which they followed up with a 3-1 victory over Tenax. ZPC Kariba and Harare City were beaten by an identical 2-0 scoreline before the Sunday’s victory over Rhinos moved them to within a point of log leaders Chicken Inn.
“A point behind Chicken Inn is good for us, but that will not count for anything if we don’t do well in the next game. We are happy we have been consistent and collected points, but the question is: Can we continue in this form? That is what is important and I would want us to do that. Once we do that, then it means we can be a team to beat.”
His team was the biggest winner on a weekend where all of their main rivals at the top connived to falter.
Log leaders Chicken Inn dropped two points in their 3-3 draw against Manica Diamonds on Saturday to move to 23 points, while the Mutare side, on fourth position on the log standings, now has 19.
Third-placed Triangle United have 20 points after they were frustrated to a goalless draw at home by Highlanders, while fifth-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars had to come from behind to snatch a point at Bulawayo Chiefs.
The Benjani Mwaruwari-coached side has 16 points, the same as defending champions FC Platinum.
“We cannot read much into these games. Of course, we want to collect maximum points, keep pressure at the team at the top, but it’s still a long way to go. We have only played 10 matches and there is going to be a lot of ups and downs. Teams are going to be changing positions week in and week out at the top.”
Ndiraya has frequently complained that some of his new players lack fitness.
He has been asking for patience from the team’s often-demanding fans as he tries to build a team that can challenge for honours this season.
At least seven new players were signed to bolster the squad, but only a few have shown potential.
Ralph Kawondera and Keith Murera have been decent. Ghanaian Paga has shown great potential, weighing in with four crucial goals in the seven matches that he has featured.
Left-back Brendon Mpofu has been the most impressive of all the new signings as he has fitted flawlessly into the squad.
Snatched from Caps United, the 22-year-old is a real talent.
When asked if his team had now reached the point where he wants it to be, Ndiraya responded: “Not really. I’m still not satisfied. We might have done very well in the first 10 games that we have played, getting 22 points out of 30, it’s OK, but it’s not what we really wanted.
“We dropped a number of points in the first games, so we want to improve in our next 10 games and try to collect more points. We want to do better than what we did. But we can’t take away the fact that the boys have done well. We are largely a new team. We brought in a lot of players and it took them time to really settle, and to believe that they can fight for things.
“The belief is starting to creep into the boys. If you look at the way they performed in the last five games, you can conclude that the team is moving in the right direction. This is a marathon, there is still a long way and consistency in the end is going to count. We will give ourselves another target in the next 10 games.”
- Follow Henry onTwitter @henrymhara