Munyaradzi Musiiwa in Zvishavane
FC Platinum 1-0 Black Rhinos
DEFENDING champions FC Platinum had to dig deep to salvage a 1-0 victory over a stubborn Black Rhinos in a thrilling Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter played at Mandava Stadium yesterday.
The victory ensured that the Pure Platinum play go into grand finale match against title hopefuls Caps United with a point advantage after the Harare giants who were on the summit for the better part of the second half of the season surrendered their advantage following a 3-2 defeat to Ngezi Platinum.
The platinum miners are now on 59 points, just one ahead of Caps United as they head to the final match of the season to decide the champion.
Nomadic midfielder Devon Chafa converted a 52nd minute penalty which was hotly protested by Black Rhinos players, leading to 10 minutes stoppage as the visitors’ technical team invaded the pitch.
FC Platinum were awarded a penalty after Mekiwa handled in the box and referee Hardly Ndazi pointed to the spot.
When play resumed, Chafa sent goalkeeper Blessing Mwandimutsira the wrong way.
Black Rhinos blew a golden opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot, after FC Platinum defender Gift Bello handled in the box in the 78th minute. Black Rhinos striker Moses Demere hit the upright from the spot kick.
FC Platinum coach Lizwe Sweswe was happy with the results and credited his charges for a disciplined performance.
“I am happy with the result. We shifted the focus from the Champions League to come and defend our title. What we are now concerned with is to ensure that we grind a result in the last match,” Sweswe said.
FC Platinum came into the match leaking wounds following a poor show in the African Safari after losing 3-0 to Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia at home on Saturday. The platinum miners put up a stellar show and were unlucky not to find an opener when Never Tigere’s effort from a set piece was parried to safety by Mwandimutsira in the eighth minute.
The hosts lost another goal scoring opportunity in the 34th minute when Tigere’s perfect delivery found unmarked Perfect Chikwende who in turn failed to beat Mwandimutsira from close range.
Black Rhinos came back from the breather fired up and came close to scoring in the 47th minute when Wellington Taderera’s shot went agonizingly wide following a good build up.
Black Rhinos coach Herbert Maruwa was disappointed with the result and blamed the officials for poor officiating.
“Both teams had a good game. Someone just spoiled the match. I’m not a referee but some of the decisions made changed the complexion of the game. It dampened my charges’ spirits,” Maruwa said.
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, G Bello, W Stima, T Chikore, D Chafa, K Madzongwe (G Mbweti, 50th minute), R Chinyengetere, G Nsiala (R Pavari, 90th minute), P Chikwende, R Muduviwa, N Tigere
Black Rhinos: B Mwandimbutsira, J Mukombwe, F Banda, B Homora,M Mekiwa, M Demera, K Nyakudenga (W Kapinda, 46th minute), M Mukumba, L Murape, W Taderera, E Chigiji.