By Eddie Chikamhi
Motor Action …………………. (1) 1
FC Platinum ………………..… (0) 1
(FC Platinum won 4-1 after penalties)
HARARE- Ambitious FC Platinum showed great fighting spirit with a dramatic late equaliser as they went on to beat Motor Action and lift their first Independence Trophy at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The platinum miners, who trailed for the better part of the game after Norman Maroto had put the Mighty Bulls ahead in the 10th minute, refused to throw in the towel and their persistence paid off when defender Qadr Amin rescued the game in the final minute of added time.
The Zvishavane side had appeared down and out, but roving left back Amin had other ideas as he saved the best for the most decisive moment with a well taken shot from the edge of the penalty box, to send the match to a shootout lottery.
Goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube then became the hero of the day after blocking Motor Action’s first two kicks from the spot as his teammates Joel Ngodzo, Amin, Daniel Veremu and Michelle Katsvairo all converted without making mistakes.
Dube dived to his right to stop Gift Phiri’s low shot and then palmed out Protasho Kabwe’s rising effort to give his side the advantage. Motor Action defender Morris Kadzola was the only player to score for the Mighty Bulls in the shootout with the third kick. Katsvairo put Kugona Kunenge Kudada in an unassailable 4-1 lead, and sent the club’s supporters into a frenzy.
FC Platinum goalkeeper Dube admitted Motor Action had given them a torrid time on the afternoon, especially in the first half when his teammates were always second to the ball and appeared running out of ideas when they had possession inside the opposition territory. But Rahman Gumbo’s men returned from the breather a rejuvenated side, with the introduction of Louis Matawu and Norman Togara at the restart giving them impetus.
“We showed our character because we were trailing behind for most of the game,” said Dube.
“Motor Action really stretched us beyond what we had imagined. We were so positive going into this game that we were going to win but once we got onto the field it was a different game altogether from what we had thought.
“They had definitely prepared well for this game and they nearly beat us. But once we went for the penalty shootout I knew the game was going to be ours because I have saved penalties before and was very confident I would do it again,” said Dube.
The Zvishavane side found themselves on the backfoot early in the first half after Maroto put his new side in the driving seat. Maroto, who was deemed excess baggage by FC Platinum controlled the ball after receiving a good pass through the middle from Congolese winger Yves Ebabali and placed it beyond the reach of the diving goalkeeper with a sharp left footer.
It appeared FC Platinum, who had shown great promise at the start, had been unsettled by the goal, as the Bulls gained an upperhand, running rings in the opposition half led by attacking midfielder Gift Phiri and new skipper Passmore Bernard.
Former Young Warriors right back, Bernard, who recently took over the captain’s armband from veteran goalkeeper Marlon Jani, was in top form yesterday, stopping the marauding combination of Amini and Ali Sadiki while also useful on the offensive. The Mighty Bulls could have been two up on the hour mark had Maroto’s header been more accurate after connecting with Ismael Lawe’s cross.
Motor Action’s defence remained resolute but centreback Dominic Mukandi nearly gave the miners an early lifeline when he miscued a low cross from Joel Ngodzo and was lucky to concede a corner in the 51st minute. Sadiki, who had a good understanding with Amin on the left channel, was back to haunt the Bulls defenders moments later after working his way past Bernard but his final delivery rolled across goal with no takers.
FC Platinum struggled in front of goal and Gumbo had to gamble in the 74th minute pulling out Charles Sibanda and replacing him with utility player Kumbulani Banda who, however, could not make any difference as he squandered a good chance in the 87th minute. But the turning point came two minutes into added time when Amin controlled the ball just outside the box and sent it into the far corner.
“This was a devastating blow. We just have to fight on another day,” said Motor Action manager Joey Antipas.
“I think we had done well to hold FC Platinum up until the last minute. Maybe an element of complacency crept in at the end because we should have closed down Amin at that moment. But credit to FC Platinum for their fighting spirit,” said Antipas.
Motor Action: M. Jani, P. Bernard, B. Chimwamuchere, M. Kadzola, D. Mukandi, J. Jam, I. Masame, Y. Ebabali (N. Maviri, 72nd minute), G. Phiri, I. Lawe (P. Kabwe, 85th minute), N. Maroto (M. Ncube, 89th minute)
FC Platinum: T. Dube, Z. Ngodzo (N. Togara, 46th minute), Q. Amin, G. Banda, D. Veremu, C. Kamhapa, J. Ngodzo, A. Sadiki, C. Sibanda (K. Banda, 74th minute), A. Gahadzikwa (L. Matawu, 46th minute), M. Katsvairo