By Eddie Chikamhi
Murape Murape stoked the flames, in their twin battle against FC Platinum for league and cup honours, when he sensationally claimed yesterday that the Premiership newboys’ quest to dominate the domestic football scene was being driven by referees sympathetic to their cause.
Dynamos and FC Platinum are in a tight battle for the Premiership title with the Zvishavane miners leading the race by three points, with three matches still to be played, including a blockbuster tie between the two teams at Mandava in Week 29 of the programme.
The Glamour Boys and “Kugona Kunenge Kudada” will clash in a Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final, which has been billed the “Final Before The Final”, at Barbourfields on Sunday.
FC Platinum booked their place in the semi-finals amid controversy with Gunners’ coach Moses Chunga and team captain Quad Amin both furious with the way the Bulawayo match officials who handled their quarter-final tie in Hwange, appeared to be helping the platinum miners’ cause.
Gunners were also unhappy with the way the referee handled their league tie against FC Platinum, despite winning the game 2-1, with goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube somehow being shown a yellow card, rather than a red one, after violently pushing a “Chando Kupisa” forward to the ground.
That Dube lived another day to turn on a man-of-the-match performance in the following week, in a Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-final tie between Gunners and FC Platinum in Hwange, which they later won after a penalty shootout, rubbed salt into the wounds of the Gunners’ camp.
Shabanie players, technical team and fans were riled by the penalty awarded to FC Platinum in their Zvishavane Derby at Mandava on Sunday, leading to a six-minute stoppage of the match, and torching a flurry of missiles from the stands, one of which hit assistant referee, Stella Ruvinga, who had to get medical attention.
DeMbare left the Colliery unhappy on Sunday after an effort by speedy forward, Martin Vengesayi, was ruled out by the Bulawayo referee who claimed that the forward had handled before finding the target.
Yesterday, Murape charged that the issues related to match officials, blowing their whistle in the FC Platinum corner, were not just a coincidence and claimed there was a network that was working to ensure the cash-rich Zvishavane miners were champions this year.
“Gunners and Shabanie Mine were complaining about the referees’ conduct in their games against FC Platinum recently and surely it doesn’t augur well for our game,” said Murape.
“Fair Play is needed and I think the rot needs to stop right now. Referees are supposed to implement the laws of the game but when complaints are made time and again in matches involving only one team, then I think it’s time the authorities stepped in and made their own investigations before everything degenerates into chaos.
“Why is it that everyone is complaining against FC Platinum? Of course, we can’t all match them in terms of financial resources, but football is a game of ethics. Clubs should earn their decorations.
“As Dynamos we never complained when we finished in second place, in the last three seasons, because it was all fair. In fact we have never heard such a noise in the league ever since I started playing football and this surely needs urgent attention.
“All I am saying is we need fair play. If FC Platinum can win the league this year, without the complaints we are hearing on a daily basis, we will congratulate them. But as long as other clubs are crying foul, and the authorities keep just watching, then we will say they don’t deserve it.”
Murape said he still believed the Glamour Boys still had the capacity to win a double this season and he was confident they will beat FC Platinum at Barbourfields on Sunday and progress to the finals against winners between Motor Action and Zimbabwe Saints, who meet in another semi-final at Sakubva on Sunday.
“We are just a poor team and we struggle just to ensure that the players are well catered for but we have the spirit to always do well and a reputation, that was built by people who made this club great some years ago, to protect,” said Murape. That’s why we could go to Hwange, when the going got tough, and dominate the match even in those tough conditions where it was so hot.
“As far as I am concerned, we won that game and I would like to salute my teammates for their courageous performance. Martin’s goal was clear, the cross came in, Guthrie (Zhokinyi) headed the ball across goal and Martin connected it.
“Where the handball offence came from, I will never know and it’s something that we were talking about with the boys, just adjusting to the pain that comes from knowing that you had done everything but somehow, someone felt you didn’t deserve to win.”
DeMbare resumed their preparations yesterday but captain George Magariro and Cuthbert Malajila did not train while midfielder Milton Makopa had a light session because of injuries. And Mbare was bullish ahead of the Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final against FC Platinum.
“It’s a game that we have been looking forward to and cup games usually are difficult. We are only a step away from the finals and there is bound to be pressure,” said Murape.
“FC Platinum are a good side with quality players but, I think, pound for pound we have better players. We have youngsters who are hungry for success and definitely we want something big in our trophy cabinet. We are in exciting times at the moment where we have to fight for the Mbada Cup and the league title but I urge the team not to be too desperate and our supporters too should rally behind us.”
FC Platinum eased three points clear of the chasing pack following their victory over Shabanie in a game that was decided by a hotly-disputed penalty converted by Mernad Mupera. There was pandemonium, after the game, as rival fans fought in Mandava.
Shabanie Mine coach Luke Maso-mere yesterday insisted that he was still sure that the referee had played a big part in deciding the derby. “I wouldn’t want to be seen to be putting the game of football into disrepute but I think Zifa should also target to cleanse the local game,” said Masomere.
“Of course, they are pre-occupied with Asiagate but Zimbabwegate is taking place right under their noses without anyone bothering to notice. “It’s usually not nice to complain but some things need to be highlighted.”
Fixtures (Mbada Diamonds Cup semifinals)
Sunday: FC Platinum v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Motor Action v Zimbabwe Saints (Sakubva)
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