SIMBA BHORA………. (0) 1
FC PLATINUM………. (0) 2
JUAN Mutudza scored twice late in the game to help defending champions FC Platinum bounce back from a goal down to beat new boys Simba Bhora in their opening Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Veteran striker Ronald Chitiyo had given the debutants the lead early in the second half with a brilliant volley from the edge of the box.
But FC Platinum rallied back scoring identically headed goals involving Mutudza and Gift Mbweti, stealing the match with just a couple of minutes remaining on the clock.
Simba Bhora were using the National Sports Stadium as their home ground after they failed to get their Shamva base ready in time for the start of the season.
Coach Norman Mapeza was happy to start their title defence with a win.
"It's massive, it's always good to have a great start. We know we are going to have some difficult games in the first five matches so it's very important. We are looking at a minimum of 13 points in the first five games of the season and if we can get them I think we will be good," he told journalists after the game.
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"In the second half, we conceded a soft goal. We could have done better than we did with those changes and when Walter Musona and Perfect Chikwende came in they changed the complexion of the game.
"Simba Bhora started to sit back. I think that was their biggest let-down because they didn't want to go forward anymore. We kept playing and then we got the first goal and we were pushing for the winner. But if it ended as a draw, I was not going to be disappointed."
It was a highly tactical first half with FC Platinum playing a patient game while Simba Bhora looked dangerous each time they went forward.
Yet there were no clear-cut chances.
It was the newcomers who drew first blood capitalising on a miscued clearance by goalkeeper Wallace Magalane at the edge of the box. Mapeza reacted to the goal by making a double substitution as he brought on Musona and Chikwende for the ineffective Jarrison Selemani and Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya.
They were rewarded eight minutes from time when Mbweti flighted a beautiful cross and Mutudza rose highest to stab the ball home.
Barely five minutes later Mutudza ensured maximum points for the visitors when he headed home another Mbweti cross, again from the right side.
Simba Bhora coach Tonderai Ndiraya was disappointed by his team's defence.
"I thought we had done enough to collect at least a point after we scored that goal.
We got excited and lost concentration. In the end we conceded two silly goals. I am disappointed by the way we conceded, failing to defend the crosses," he said.
"But this is the first game in the league for us and I will take confidence from the way we performed today."
Simba Bhora: S Chinani, K Murera, A Manenji, W Tafa, P Jaure, B Moyo, T Chipunza, R Chitiyo(V Kawe 85'), T Chawapiwa (S Maramwidze , I Nyanhi, A Onifade (K Balakasi 67').
FC Platinum: W Magalane, G Mbweti, L Mhlanga, M Ngwenya, K Mangiza, H Magaya ( I Mucheneka 77'), J Mutuza, B Banda, P Mutimbanyoka, J Selemani( Musina 60'), T Ngwenya( P Chikwende 61').
Results and fixtures
Yesterday: Simba Bhora 1-2 FC Platinum, Sheasham 0-0 Chicken Inn, Bulawayo Chiefs 1-1 Ngezi Platinum, Hwange 0-1 Dynamos
Today: CAPS United v Manica Diamonds (NSS), Triangle v Herentals (Gibbo), Highlanders v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields)
Tomorrow: Yadah v Green Fuel (NSS 12pm), Cranborne Bullets v Black Rhinos (NSS 3pm)