By Tadious Manyepo
Ngezi Platinum Stars’ hard-fought victory over Bulawayo Chiefs at Baobab yesterday was in vain as they still had to contend with being the Premiership’s bridesmaids after their rivals in the race FC Platinum wrapped up the title with a victory at Shabanie Mine.
Marlon Mushonga and Michael Charamba scored second half goals that secured victory for the home side.
But, it was always going to take some sort of miracle for the Mhondoro miners to win the crown given they had long surrendered the destiny of their title hopes to other teams.
Yesterday’s victory was, however, the first for interim coach Clifton Kadurira who had drawn his first two matches in charge to effectively hand over the initiative to FC Platinum.
Ngezi needed to win, which they did, and pray that FC Platinum lose to retain some faint hopes of winning the Premiership.
But that was always going to be a distant hope given FC Platinum’s rampant form.
Kadurira had exuded some confidence that the unlikely would happen after yesterday’s round of fixtures but at the end of the day his deputy Gift “Umbro’’ Muzadzi gave credit to FC Platinum for their sustained effort which saw them wrapping the title with two matches to spare.
“We always believed that we would win the title but after this, we can only say congratulations to FC Platinum for being crowned the kings of Zimbabwean football.
“We did our best to win the league. I give credit to the executive, the players and the supporters for executing their duties well.” said Muzadzi.
“FC Platinum had seized the opportunity when we dropped points in our last two matches but that’s football we will keep on fighting to reduce the deficit in terms of points between them and us.
“We also wanted to be champions but I don’t think second position is bad for a three-year old club in the top-flight.
“There are some teams which are seven or eight years old but they have failed to secure even a top-four finish.
“Congratulations to the team and everyone else for the successful campaign which we had this year,” Muzadzi said.
Muzadzi said his club, which started the season like a house on fire, lost the plot when they allowed themselves to be beaten by the “so-called small teams’’.
“Yes, we started the season well but we lost it when we lost to the so-called small teams.
“But, overall we cannot put our heads down, we played well to be second though we wanted to win the championship.” The hosts were ominously subdued in the first half, failing to knit together even three passes in succession.
Bulawayo Chiefs’ woeful performance in the same period did not help either as the scorching conditions in Ngezi seemed to take toll on the players. Ngezi upped their act on resumption and duly surged ahead 10 minutes into the half when Mushonga tapped in a headed cross at the by-line by Donald Teguru.
Bulawayo Chiefs, who are not yet safe from the chop tried to crawl their way back into the match but George Majika’s curling free-kick narrowly missed the target with Perfect Chikwende also coming close. It was the hosts who stretched their lead with substitute Xolisani Moyo weaving his way past a thicket of Chiefs’ bewildered defence to lay a pass onto the path of Charamba who had the easiest of tasks to let the ball cross the line.
For someone who had missed several opportunities to register his name on the scoresheet, including a one versus one situation with Chiefs goalkeeper David Bizabani in the first half, his wild celebration was understandable.
Chiefs coach Garthly Chipuka, who blamed “some lapse in concentration’’ by his defenders remained adamant his team will survive the axe.
They are 13th on the log, with 38 points, five above the drop zone with two matches remaining.
His charges face Highlanders and ZPC Kariba in their final matches while Ngezi will be out to redeem some pride against FC Platinum in their next assignment before concluding the season’s proceedings with a home date against army side Black Rhinos.
Ngezi Platinum Stars: N. Chadya, J. Nguluve (X. Moyo 84th min), P. Moyo, K. Bulaji, W. Mukanga, K. Murera, F. Makarati, M. Mushonga (S. Nhivi 81st min), D. Teguru (T. Mabvura 77th min), M. Charamba, G. Murwira
Bulawayo Chiefs: D. Bizabani, S. Nyahwa, M. Majika, M. Mkolo, T. Muzuva, G. Mleya, L. Matizirofa, S. Nkala, K. Chakanyuka, P. Chikwende (A.Tandi 62nd min), S. Dube, L. Matizirofa (S. Mhlanga 74th min) The Herald