BY TERRY MADYAUTA
DEFENDER Lawrence Mhlanga was the toast of the day for FC Platinum yesterday after he scored a late goal that sealed maximum points when they beat Bulawayo Chiefs 1-0 at Mandava stadium.
Mhlanga spent the better of the second half with a bandaged head after a collision with the Bulawayo Chiefs goalkeeper, but he refused to be substituted and went on to score the all-important goal for the defending champions.
The win meant the miners will remain with their two point advantage at the summit of the log standings even if Chicken Inn beat Tenax by any margin while the Zvishavane side are now eight points clear of third placed Dynamos.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza was full of praise for his team’s character.
“This was a tough match, but I have to admit that my boys showed character to win the match. These difficult matches are usually decided by set pieces and today that was the case,” he said.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
“I am proud of Lawrence Mhlanga; he scored against Cranborne Bullets under the same circumstances. He is strong and I appreciate his work rate together with that of the team.
“This character has given us confidence especially with the pressure that comes with being top of the table.”
His counterpart Nilton Terroso conceded that they lost to a better side.
“We were restricted in the first half, but we were better in the second half. It was a good game overall. We played very well. We did everything we could but these are the champions, probably the best team at the moment and unfortunately today the details did not go our way,” Terroso said.
As expected the match proved to be a cagey affair although FC Platinum kept their opponents quiet in the first half with their pressing to restrict Bulawayo Chiefs to sporadic attacks.
Despite the home side’s best efforts in the first half they could not breach the Bulawayo Chiefs defence line that was being well marshaled by the Moyo twins, Kelvin and Elvis.
Their first meaningful chance came through Brian Banda after 18 minutes when the former Highlanders midfielder was picked in space by Walter Musona, but his low shot posed little threat as it rolled out.
Five minutes later Chiefs also threatened on a counter with Farau Matare breaking loose just outside the box, but it took Mhlanga’s big frame to wrestle him off the ball.
For a moment it looked like Chiefs would break the deadlock when they seized control in terms of possession with Perfect Chikwende controlling proceedings in midfield.
But after the break, FC Platinum turned on their screws and they came near twice in quick succession with Juan Mutudza laying two low crosses which Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya failed to tap in with the substitute goalkeeper Matripples Muleya beaten.
Muleya replaced David Bizabani after a head collision with Mhlanga on the 64th minute mark.
While FC Platinum goalie had been a spectator for the better part, he was called into action on 75th minute to make a reactionary save as he blocked Chikwende’s tap in from on the near post from a corner-kick.
From then on fans were kept at the edge of their seats as action swung from end to end, with Chiefs on the offensive.
On the 86th minute Arthur Musiyiwa got what turned out to be Bulawayo Chiefs’ best chance of the match with a volley that beat goalie Magalane only to hit the cross bar.
They, however, crumbled like a deck of cards on the swing of play when they failed to clear a hapless freekick that was whipped in by Walter Musona and was slotted home by Lawrence Mhlanga.
Chiefs made subsequent changes after they conceded but to no avail.