NGEZI Platinum Stars coach Takesure Chiragwi is happy with the progress that his squad is making as he sets his sights on building a team that can compete in continental competitions
The youthful gaffer took over the reins at the ambitious Mhondoro based side last season and has quickly transformed the team which is now eyeing a cup double.
The log leaders progressed to the semifinals of the Chibuku Super Cup following a penalty shootout win over Herentals at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
On an afternoon the Mhondoro Ngezi were uncharacteristically below par, they were bailed out by reserve goalkeeper Chang Marioni who produced world class saves to keep his side in the game before keeping out Ali Maliselo's kick during the penalty shootout to secure a 5-4 victory that kept alive their dream of a league and cup double this season.
Ngezi Platinum who sit at the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table with nine matches remaining, were handed what on paper looks like a favourable draw for the Chibuku Super Cup semifinals after they were paired against Black Rhinos, while the other semifinal match will see Dynamos play Caps United collide.
The two matches will be played on the last weekend of this month.
Winners of this cup, whose final match is set on November 25, will represent the country in the Caf Confederations Cup while the league chanpions will compete in the more prestigious Caf Champions League next year.
Chiragwi is excited about his project, and was particularly happy that his side, handicapped by the absence of first choice goalkeeper Nelson Chadya and inspirational captain Qadr Amini, managed to overcome bogey side Herentals at the weekend.
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While admitting that the performance was not pleasing on the eye, he said the way this victory was achieved showed that his team have character as they fight to win the league and the Chibuku Super Cup.
"We are happy, and I appreciate the work that these players are putting in," Chiragwi said.
"We really need it (to win the double). It's the name of the game, if sponsors come in and put in those cup games, we are happy and we want to win. It's important to the players to win some silverware. Every competition that we compete in, we want to win it. That is exactly the reason we play football. For us being in the semifinals, it's important and good for us to be honest. It motivates the team."
Chiragwi took over the reins last season following the departure of his mentor Rodwell Dhlakama, with the mandate of winning the league title.
He is looking beyond lifting the title, which has been stubbornly elusive for the club.
"We play football to win, nothing else. The main objective is to prepare a team that can win regularly. These youngsters, their quality, I'm short of words for them. Today I had two youngsters, under 18s in the team. It shows how exactly we want things to be done at the club."
Ngezi Platinum Stars represented the country in the Caf Confederations Cup in 2017 after winning the Chibuku Super Cup the previous year on their debut season in the top flight, but their sourjon in the African Safari was short-lived as they were knocked out in the first round.
"From the start of the season we said we want to make sure we build a team that is going to compete in the league for a long time. This is exactly what we are doing, and in two to three years I'm sure we will have a squad that is good enough to compete even in the continental competitions."
Chiragwi's men will have to quickly shift their focus to the league as they welcome second from the bottom Black Rhinos at Baobab Stadium tomorrow, looking to maintain their four point lead at the top of the log table.
Matchday 25 fixtures
Today: Cranborne Bullets v Simba Bhora (National Sports Stadium).
Tomorrow: Herentals v Chicken Inn (National Sports Stadium), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Black Rhinos (Baobab), Manica Diamonds v Fc Platinum (Gibbo), Caps United v Yadah (Bata), Highlanders v Sheasham (Barbourfields), Zpc Kariba v GreenFuel (Nyamhunga).
Thursday: Triangle v Dynamos (Gibbo), Bulawayo Chiefs v Hwange (Luveve).