Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
FC PLATINUM reaped the rewards of good player investment by bagging their second successive Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title in style with two matches to spare.
The platinum miners were crowned champions on Sunday following a 1-0 win over Shabanie Mine in a Zvishavane derby, courtesy of a Devon Chafa strike.
The win took FC Platinum to an unassailable 74 points.
While the “Moneybags” celebrated their second title in eight Premiership seasons, neighbours Shabanie Mine bade farewell to Premiership rivalry with the champions, who remain the only team from the mining town in the topflight.
Players brought by Mapeza in the last three seasons were catalysts in FC Platinum’s success.
Reigning Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere carried over his 2017 season form into 2018, and to date leads the top scorers chart with 17 goals from 32 games.
Veteran forward Mkhokheli Dube has also been a vital cog in Mapeza’s squad, leading from the front and coming in with many assists.
Players bought at the beginning of the season such as winger Rahman Kutsanzira and central midfielder Edwin Madanhanga gelled well and proved to be good buys for FC Platinum.
What is evident from FC Platinum’s squad is that there is no substitute for experience as they have a solid pool of players, with whomever coming in delivering.
Underrated defensive midfielder Winston Mhango, who played almost all games for the platinum miners this season, defenders Kevin Moyo, Elvis Moyo,
Gift Bello and Raphael Muduvhiwa, attackers Gift Mbweti and Ali Sadiki, carried the season for Mapeza.
They conceded the least number of goals, 14, and scored a massive 51 past opposition goalkeepers, the most in the league.
FC Platinum, who edged fellow platinum miners Ngezi Platinum Stars to the title, had the luxury of rotating goalkeepers Petros Mhari and Wallace Magalane, proving that they had the best quality players in the land. However, their goalkeepers continue to be overlooked for national duty despite statistics showing that they are the best.
Having conquered the domestic scene for two successive seasons and also possessing a healthy bank balance, Mapeza, who has won three league championships now, has to redirect his focus to the continental safari.
The cluster at FC Platinum now has to use its experience to make a mark in the Caf Champions League.
With the championship race done and dusted, focus will be on the tail end where Nichrut are hoping to pull a Houdini act and escape from the relegation hellhole.
Shabanie Mine, Mutare City Rovers and Bulawayo City have all been relegated, leaving one more team to join them. Nichrut occupy the last relegation slot with 33 points.
Chapungu are a place above Nichrut with 37 points.
Match Day 32 Results
Saturday: Nichrut 0-2 Herentals, ZPC Kariba 2-0 Chapungu, Chicken Inn 1-1 Black Rhinos, Yadah 0-0 Bulawayo City
Sunday: Highlanders 2-0 Harare City, Mutare City Rovers 0-1 Caps United, Shabanie Mine 0-1 FC Platinum, Dynamos 0-0 Triangle United, Ngezi Platinum Stars 2-0 Bulawayo Chiefs. — @ZililoR.