BY HENRY MHARA IN MHONDORO NGEZI
Ngezi Platinum Stars . . . . . (1) 3
Herentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 0
NGEZI Platinum Stars returned to winning ways with an easy win over Herentals at Baobab Stadium, victory that saw the hosts moving back to the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League log standings.
On a weekend badly interrupted by Covid-19, which saw all other matches postponed as the fourth wave wreaks havoc in the domestic top flight, Ngezi took full advantage with a dominant performance to return to the summit.
The score line would flatter Herentals as it could have been worse. Ngezi created over 10 good chances and had they been clinical, could have won this match by a netball score line.
It was a good response though for the team from their Chibuku Super Cup final loss to FC Platinum last week.
Before that, they had drawn against Highlanders in a league match.
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Ngezi Platinum Stars had an ideal start when Nyasha Chintuli tapped in a Qadr Amini cross five minutes into the match. It was his fourth goal of the season following his hattrick in their opening match of the season when they humbled Bulawayo City 5-0.
Herentals almost responded immediately when Tino Benza ran clear, but could not beat goalkeeper Nelson Chadya.
The match soon turned into a one sided contest with Ngezi dominating possession, but could not add on their tally in the first half thanks to Herentals goalkeeper Frank Kuchineyi who produced some top drawer saves to keep his team in the game.
Against the run of play, Herentals almost snatched an equaliser when Clemence Zimhondi came eye ball to eye ball with Chadya on 55th minute, but again failed to convert.
The visitors were ruthlessly punished for the glaring miss when Bruno Mtigo doubled Ngezi’s lead. A deflected shot landed on his path and the striker couldn’t miss from a few yards out.
Anelka Chivandire headed in the third on 78th minute as the home side cruised to a comfortable victory. They could have added more afterwards, but Kuchineyi was excellent, and made sure the scoreline remained respectable.
Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Rodwell Dhlakama was happy with his team’s performance.
“It’s a massive response from the lads considering the background that we lost to FC Platinum in the Chibuku Super Cup. That drained us physiologically and physically, but I’m happy we played well today. We could have done better though because we created a lot of chances in the first half and could have wrapped up the game then. We came back in the second half and scored two more, and what is important is getting three points,” he said before heaping praise on Chintuli.
Dhlakama missed three stars for the match due to Covid-19, including Denver Mukamba.
Herentals also had four Covid 19 cases in their camp, and coach Kumburai Mutiwekuziva said that could have contributed to their poor performance.
“It was a bad day for us, we lost but that is football. They (Ngezi) were clinical, and good going forward so they managed to score. I can also attribute this defeat to the fact that we were not active last week, and they were active in the Chibuku Super Cup final so there was a lot of activity in their camp unlike us. We did our best and created two good chances that we failed to convert which was our weakness.
“The Covid issue was also a major factor today because we were not quite sure if this match would be played. It’s a situation that was giving us a dilemma, and also stressful to the players because we had four cases in our camp. That on its own disturbed as we couldn’t find our rhythm.”
Ngezi Platinum Stars: N Chadya, N Chintuli, K Chigwida, K Murera, M Mukumba, P Moyo, B Mtigo, M Mushonga, Q Amini (W Makuva, 76′), W Taderera (M Makuwe, 59′), N Makumbe.
Herentals FC: F Kuchineyi, K Bingala (D Chimwemwe 63′), Z Rugucho, W Chimbetu, T Benza, G Chinobva, C Zimhondi, W Kaphumha, I Benza (B Majarira, 63′), T Jimu (A Mataranyika, 46′), B Majarira