By Ricky Zililo, in BULAWAYO
Bulawayo Chiefs . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Ngezi Platinum Stars . . . . . . . . . . 0
GRACIOUS MULEYA’s 30th minute penalty helped Bulawayo Chiefs to become the first club to beat Ngezi Platinum Stars in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League as the leaders finally met their match at Luveve yesterday.
Chiefs, who had gone for seven games without a win, defied all the odds against a Ngezi side that finished the match with nine players following red cards to substitutes Clive Augusto and Xolisani Moyo.
The hosts produced a great act, similar to the one they did when they outfoxed FC Platinum 2-0 to hand them their only defeat of the season on Match Day Seven at the same venue, to beat the high-flying leaders.
The Premiership newboys were compact in midfield and defence, soaking all the pressure that Ngezi were piling, with their strategy being to catch the visitors on counter attacks.
The penalty came after a long clearance was made to lone striker Farau Matare, who beat defender Frank Makarati, but was brought down by Ngezi ‘keeper Donovan Bernard in the box.
The decision by controversial referee Hardly Ndazi seemed harsh, but Ngezi’s protests fell on deaf ears.
What could have even irked Ngezi is that before Chiefs were awarded the penalty, they had what appeared to be a genuine call for a penalty turned down after Michael Charamba was brought down inside the box and Ndazi ignored their appeals.
Ngezi enjoyed superior ball dominance, created scoring chances, which they fluffed, with James Nguluve and Tichaona Mabvura the main culprits.
The duo opened an avenue on the left side, but failed to beat Chiefs ‘keeper Kelvin Nyoni, who was rarely tested.
As the search for an equaliser continued, Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya pulled out the injured central midfielder Walter Mukanga for striker Augusto in the 52nd minute and the latter lasted for 11 minutes.
Augusto had been booked for simulation and seemed to exchange harsh words with the referee as he felt he was infringed in the box.
Ndazi sent the striker for an early shower for dissent.
Moyo, a 73rd minute replacement for Nelson Ketala, lasted nine minutes on the field as he was wrongly shown a red card for stamping on a Chiefs player in an off-the-ball incident, which was noted by assistant referee Emanuel Mugwagwa.
Charamba should instead have been sent off.
Ndiraya felt hard done by Ndazi.
“I think it was a very difficult game for us today. So many things happened that I’m not happy about as a coach. We were not ourselves today as we struggled to find our rhythm.
“I think we had some opportunities in the first half to take the lead, but couldn’t do that. Of note was a penalty decision that went against us when Charamba was clearly impeded as he was going for goal, but the referee thought otherwise.
“The second bookable offence for Clive Augusto was too harsh and the Xolisani Moyo decision, he wasn’t close to what happened and again to my surprise, he got a red card and I thought it was a case of mistaken identity.
“The match official made mistakes in a big game like this. He is human, but he can’t make three mistakes in a game and I thought that changed the complexion of the game. I’m disappointed by what happened today,” said Ndiraya.
His Chiefs’ counterpart Garthly Chipuka was excited by the victory.
“I’m happy for the boys. They wanted this victory against a Ngezi side that is tactically good. It was that mistake that got us the penalty, but they (Ngezi) were suffocating us.
“The spirit of the players carried them on.”
Bulawayo Chiefs: K. Nyoni, M. Mkolo, S. Nyahwa, P. Moyo, A. Tandi, T. Muzuva, G. Muleya, F. Matare, B. Manhire (A. Musiyiwa, 73rd min), P. Chikwende (E. Chidavaenzi, 90th min), M. Majika (L. Ndlela, 90th min).
Ngezi Platinum Stars: D. Bernard, K. Bulaji, L. Chakaroma, N. Ketala (X. Moyo, 73nd min), J. Nguluve, T. Mabvura (D. Teguru, 60th min), G. Murwira, W. Mukanga (C. Augusto, 52nd min), M. Charamba, F. Makarati, T. Chipunza. The Herald