DeMbare throw title race wide open

FUN IN THE SUN . . . DeMbare players join Roderick Mutuma (lefty) in celebrating his goal during their match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday. — (Picture by Paul Mundandi)

FUN IN THE SUN . . . DeMbare players join Roderick Mutuma (lefty) in celebrating his goal during their match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday. — (Picture by Paul Mundandi)

Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Bulawayo—
Chicken Inn . . . . 0
Dynamos . . . . (1) 1
CHAMPIONS Dynamos blew the riveting Castle Lager Premiership title race wide open when they ground out a crucial win over leaders Chicken Inn at Barbourfields yesterday. The champions may have remained in third-place and four points behind the Gamecocks but Tonderai Ndiraya and his men will return from Bulawayo with satisfaction that the priceless win they secured against the log leaders will have a huge bearing as the title races canters towards its home stretch.

After all Chicken Inn will also take on second-placed FC Platinum and the Glamour Boys, seeking a fifth straight championship and the first under Ndiraya will be hoping that the two sides will cancel each other out. Roderick Mutuma’s 10th minute strike gave DeMbare the vital win and crucially Dynamos’ first over the Gamecocks in Bulawayo.

It was also some revenge mission for Dynamos who, then under David “Yogi’’ Mandigora succumbed to a 3-0 defeat by Chicken Inn at Rufaro. Dynamos’ victory was not without some controversy though. A continuous sequence of incompetent decisions by Hwange-based referee Hardly Ndazi overshadowed Dynamos’ deserved win over Chicken Inn.

Mutuma’s goal saw the Glamour Boys cutting the Gamecock’s lead at the top of the table to four points. Dynamos frustrated their hosts with a defensive display after the goal and did not register any shot on target after that. However, it was referee Ndazi, who has previously been accused of biased officiating by DeMbare, who stole the limelight albeit for the wrong reasons.

Ndazi’s comedy of errors started early into the match when he allowed himself to be literally bullied by Dynamos captain Stephen Alimenda, who was in the referee’s face throughout the match. On two occasions, the blundering Ndazi allowed Dynamos’ injured players to continue playing after being treated on the field of play instead of ordering them to leave the pitch and return after play had resumed.

First it was big striker Takesure Chinyama, who picked up a knock inside the Chicken Inn half and Ndazi waved on the medics to attend to him. After being treated, the medics left the pitch but Chinyama continued playing. There would have been controversy had the stocky target man scored as Dynamos attacked through a free-kick soon after blunder.

The next incident was even more comical when second half substitute Blessing Moyo, who had been hacked down and needed treatment, quickly took a throw in after being treated on the pitch. Ndazi’s errors mounted when he resumed play with a drop ball after medics had attended to Dynamos goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva, although medics only came on after the goalkeeper had kicked the ball out of play after injuring his shoulder.

“It’s sad that the referee was so unfair to us. We are taking nothing from the Dynamos win but I feel the referee was against us and we wonder whether previous threats by Dynamos not to play under him actually put him under a lot of pressure,” said a clearly disappointed Chicken Inn chairman Lifa Ncube.

Ndazi’s pathetic display beside, the match itself started explosively as both sides tried to unsettle each other by searching for an early goal. Chicken Inn almost stole the lead through Michelle Katsvairo, whose low first time shot missed the target by inches after getting to the end of a well calculated cross from an overlapping Moses Jackson in the fifth minute.

Jackson had been picked up by outstanding veteran Clemence Matawu. But the champions regrouped and began to exchange some neat passes with Alimenda doing most of the running in the middle of the park. A rare mistake by central defender Guide Goddard, who panicked while under no pressure on the centre line, saw the ball falling for Mutuma, who passed it to Chinyama and ran into space.

Chinyama crossed to Mutuma whose first time short beat the diving Elvis Chipezeze in goals for Chicken Inn and sent the DeMbare fans into delirium. Goddard could have mend amends in the 16th minute with a snap shot from the penalty box arc, but Mukuruva was alert to make a clean catch.

The champions responded immediately through a Ronald Chitiyo long range shot that, however, went over the bar. The second half had little action as Dynamos chose to sit back and absorb the Chicken Inn pressure. “We thought it was better for us to suck the pressure and hope to catch them on counter attacks,” said an elated Ndiraya.

Chicken Inn coach Joe Antipas said Goddard’s mistake cost them dearly. “We did everything to win the match. We dominated play but the goal would just not come. Big up though to Dynamos’ defensive play,” said Antipas. He said it was still game on as far as the championship race was concerned.

With FC Platinum having been restricted to a 0-0 draw by battling Tsholotsho, Antipas is right to reckon that it is still game on the title race and with six games and 18 points still to play for there certainly will be more dramatic twists and turns in the title race.

Chicken Inn: E Chipezeze, L Mhlanga, G Goddard, C Matawu, M Jackson, T Kutinyu (I Lawe 65th min), D Phiri, E Chirambadare (Toto Banda 92nd min), M Katsvairo, G Majika, B Mbiriri

Dynamos: T Mukuruva, G Murwira, O Mushure, O Mwerahari, E Muroiwa, S Alimenda, R Chitiyo ( T Mukanga 82nd min), Z Mhanda (B Moyo 69th min), C Rusere, R Mutuma (R Kawondera 72nd min), T Chinyama