HIGHLANDERS. . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 1
NGEZI PLATINUM. . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
NGEZI Platinum Stars were yesterday officially crowned 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions, despite losing to Highlanders in their last Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match of the season at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Madamburo were handed their championship trophy amid celebration and fanfare from their travelling fans after Highlanders gave them the guard of honour before the game started.
Highlanders' young Prince Ndlovu had a brilliant moment where he weaved past Ngezi Platinum Stars players in the centre before making a defence-splitting pass for Mckinnon Mushore to blast the ball past an advancing goalkeeper Nelson Chadya in the 19th minute.
It was the solitary goal that separated the two sides.
Ngezi finished the season with 66 points while Highlanders had 55 points on position five.
Despite losing the last game to Highlanders, coach Takesure Chiragwi was over the moon for winning the league title as well as making it to the Chibuku Super Cup final.
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"It is amazing to bring that trophy to Mhondoro and obviously as a coach I'm happy to win this cup while I'm still growing. It’s a motivation to me but it is not a surprise because I know who I am and I know how I put a lot of effort into and the guys around, the technical team. We put things together so that we win this collectively. And suddenly we are in the final of the Chibuku Super Cup. You can’t ask for more if you have done so much. We need to appreciate the players after very good work," Chiragwi said.
Manica Diamonds, the runners-up in the league, were also at BF to recieve their medals.
Highlanders assistant coach Joel Luphahla was happy with the result but still bitter to see Ngezi recieve the trophy at BF in front of the Bulawayo giants' crowd.
“The aim that was to make sure that we win at home and finish well because we knew it was going to be painful to see Ngezi being crowned here at our own stadium. So we said let's give them something to cheer about. We got three points and madesure we got six from the champions and it means there is something that we can correct,” Luphahla said.
Goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda twice saved Highlanders in the fourth minute from Tinotenda Murasirana who had mounted a serious attack on Bosso as the match started.
Calvin Chigonero for Highlanders had his effort cleared off the goal line by Gareth Madhaka in the 14th minute.
Substitute Claude Mapoka troubled Highlanders when he came in the second half and his moment almost came on the hour but had his weak header was cleared off the line by Mbongeni Ndlovu as Ngezi Platinum took charge of the game.
An opportunity for Highlanders to get the second goal came in the 76th minute but Calvin Chigonero, face to face with Chadya, failed to convert after he was set up by the ever-busy McKinnon.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, T Dube (R Kutsanzira 89'), M Chigumira (M Ncube 62'), C Chigonero (E Farasi 89'), M Mushore, P Ndlovu (R Lunga 89'), A Mbeba, M Mushore, P Muduhwa, M Ndlovu, G Nyathi (A Tandi 77')
Ngezi Platinum: N Chadya, K Chigwida, P Moyo, M Gaki (E Mweha 80'), T Benhura, G Madhake, Q Amini (T Mandinyenya 78'), L Kashitigu (M Mukumba 80')
N Makumbe (B Mtigo 46'), F Madhananga, T Murasiranwa (C Mapoka 46')