By Eddie Chikamhi
Caps United 1 – 2 Ngezi Platinum
Leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars demonstrated their clout at the National Sports Stadium yesterday when they found a way to beat Caps United for the first time in the league and steered three-points clear of the chasing pack in this year’s Castle Lager Premiership race.
Determination paid off for Tonderai Ndiraya’s men, who remain the only unbeaten side after 11 games, when Terrence Dzvukamanja and James Nguluve scored late in the first half in response to John Zhuwawu’s 27th minute strike.
The victory meant, the modest Mhondoro side have now collected maximum points against all the giants after felling Dynamos and Highlanders as well as championship contenders Chicken Inn in previous matches this season.
The story line before yesterday’s match was that the platinum miners had never beaten Makepekepe since they stormed the domestic Premiership two years ago and the records favoured Makepekepe who had won twice at home and drawn twice away.
It looked the script would continues after Zhuwawu put Makepekepe ahead from a move that was started by Milton Ncube on the left with Simba Nhivi also getting involved.
Zhuwawu had the Makepekepe supporters on their feet when he found the gap with a little help from a deflection off Ngezi Platinum defender Frank Makarati.
However, it took the visitors exactly 10 minutes to claw back into the game with Dzvukamanja bagging his fifth goal of the season after unleashing a rising shot from inside the box.
Then Nguluve, who had a brief stint with Makepekepe last year on loan from South Africa’s Maritzburg United, sealed the game just before the half-time whistle after Makepekepe defenders were found flat-footed from a corner kick.
The win was sweet music for Ngezi Platinum coach Ndiraya, who has been credited with assembling a formidable outfit capable of competing for the title.
“I’m very satisfied. Look, it’s been a very long time since we beat Caps United, it was through sheer hard work. It wasn’t easy for us but we always had hope and belief that one day we will get a result against Caps United.
“The result is quite satisfying and the way we managed the result after going 2-1 up I thought we were quite splendid today.
“Basically it shows the mental strength that we have in the squad. It’s not easy to come from a goal down against a good team like Caps United and eventually win the game.
“It was not just coming from a goal down but managing the game the way we did the entire second half, I think we were very good in that area.
“Of course, Caps United got some opportunities but they were not really clear-cut scoring chances. So I thought we managed the game well and I thought we had mental strength dominance in midfield.
‘’Tichaona Chipunza and Marlon Mushonga, they were quite good today and they gave cover to our defence which restricted Caps United’s long balls,” said Ndiraya.
The game, which was also largely a battle of wits between Ndiraya and Lloyd Chitembwe, was full of entertainment value, especially in the opening minutes when action swung from end to end, as both teams displayed attacking flair.
Makepekepe were first to test their opponents through Zhuwawu whose low shot was punched back into play by the keeper Donovan Bernard but Simba Nhivi was a bit slower with only seven minutes played.
The hosts had appeals for handball turned down after the ball hit defender Makarati’s arm.
But the game was never one way.
The Green Machine’s goalkeeper Criss Mverechena was also called into the action early in the game although Dzvukamanja’s shot lacked the sting from inside the box.
Ngezi were always threatening going forward but it was Makepekepe who took the lead when Zhuwawu beat the goalkeeper Bernard via a deflection with 27 minutes played.
However, Makepekepe defenders were found wanting when Nguluve made a spirited run down the right flank and found Teguru inside the box.
The ball ended up at Dzvukamanja’s feet after Teguru had unsuccessfully tried to weave his way through a congested path.
The forward made no mistake when presented with the opportunity.
Dzvukamanja has now joined Nhivi, Lameck Nhamo of Triangle and Shabanie’s David Temwanjira at the top of the scoring charts with five goals.
Ngezi then stole the lead when Caps United failed to defend from a corner kick right on the stroke of half-time.
Nguluve prodded the ball home when he reacted the fastest to a ball that had come off the woodwork from Dzvukamanja’s head with keeper Mverechena beaten.
Ngezi extended their lead at the top to 29 points, three ahead of closest rivals FC Platinum who played a goalless home draw against Triangle on Saturday.
Naturally, Caps United coach Chitembwe was disappointed as his side has not won a match in the last three games.
He said his team were conceding soft goals.
“To be honest I think we were very poor today. We played very well the first 15 minutes but thereafter the script was on the wall. Our application was very poor.
“There were times it appeared as if we were slightly overawed by the occasion. But credit to Ngezi, they applied themselves, they got the two goals and I am sure they deserve the victory today,” said Chitembwe.
Substitute Peter “Rio’’ Moyo was their best player yesterday.
Caps United: C. Mverechena, P. Tonha (B. Muzondiwa, 70th min), V. Musarurwa, S. Makatuka (J. Jangano, 48th min), D. Dauda, K. Nyamupfukudza, J. Ngodzo, D. Mukamba (P. Moyo, 51st min), M. Ncube, J. Zhuwawu, S. Nhivi
Ngezi Platinum Stars: D. Bernard, K. Bulaji, K. Murera, L. Chakoroma, F. Makarati, T. Chipunza, M. Mushonga, W. Mukanga (M. Charamba, 62nd min), D. Teguru (C. Augusto, 59th min), J. Nguluve (X. Moyo, 76th min), T. Dzvukamanja. The Chronicle