By Mukudzei Chingwere
Defending champions FC Platinum continued their relentless chase of leaders CAPS United with a hard-fought Castle Lager Premiership football victory over Chapungu United at Ascot yesterday.
Never Tigere’s first-half free-kick was enough to give the platinum miners full points against the Air Force of Zimbabwe side.
For FC Platinum, the win means they maintain a two-point gap between them and leaders CAPS United who won the Harare derby against Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Now with two games to go and the last one against CAPS United, FC Platinum need to win both matches to retain the league’s ultimate prize.
Coach Lizwe Sweswe is aware that if they win their remaining matches they will retain their crown and is optimistic it can be done.
“I think it was one of those games which you need three points and I think these points will take us somewhere, well-done to the boys.
“What is important is to keep on winning our games, if we win the two games we are left with we will defend our title.
“With this mentality, I think we have the capacity to retain the title and we need to continue working hard,” said Sweswe.
For Chapungu the defeat leaves them just two points above the relegation zone.
With a bit of research about the opponent, both sides should have been avoiding conceding free-kicks as the two teams are equipped with some good dead ball specialists.
Chapungu conceded two dangerous free-kicks inside the opening 20 minutes, and from the resultant second one, Tigere beat Talbert Shumba hands down.
Edmore Muzanenhamo had the chance to level the scores on two occasions, his first free-kick was inches over and the second one was tipped over by an alert Francis Tizayi in goal for FC Platinum.
Just before the hour mark, second half substitute Ian Nyoni missed an open goal, pushing his effort wide after Tizayi was beaten by a Hillary Mugoniwa cross.
Outgoing Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere could have killed the game as a contest 10 minutes before full-time, but he missed an open goal with Shumba a beaten man.
Chapungu coach Thomas Chinyan’anya torched a storm in the second half when he substituted Denver Mukamba — one of the best players on the pitch — and his side’s fans from the stands questioned his desire to win the match. “People can say a lot of things but the reasoning behind that substitution was that he was not tracking William (Stima) who was playing left back for FC Platinum and I wanted someone who stops the opponent up the field.
“Losing at home at this stage we are now is not good, I think we dropped points unnecessarily and I think it is bad for us, but the team played well.
“I am happy with our performance and we need to improve on our conversion,” said Chinyan’anya.
Chapungu: T Shumba, C Mativenga, H Mugoniwa, B Mbavarira, M Muchingambi, G Mleya, E Muzanenhamo, B Mugoni (P Kumbula 73rd min), D Mukamba (M Mavuto 61st min), B Chihowa (I Nyoni 52nd min), P Marufu
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, R Muduviwa, L Mhlanga, G Bello, W Stima, D Chafa, R Pavari (K Madzongwe 61st min), R Chinyengetere (A Eonde 85th min), N Tigere, G Nsiala (R Kutsanzira 67th min), G Mbweti. The Herald