THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) has never been a welcoming home for newly-promoted teams. In fact, 80% of the teams that enter the league find themselves gravitating back to where they came from due to lack of financial muscle and/or professional administration.
But for the Mhondoro-based newcomers – Ngezi Platinum FC – it appears the sky is the limit in as far as financial and administrative matters are concerned.
It’s now up to the players and technical team to decide the fate of the football club.
Given the work done so far at Ngezi, it appears chances of this Zimplats-backed team sinking back to Division One are very remote.
In 2011, FC Platinum of Zvishavane stormed into the PSL with verve after winning the Central Region promotion ticket into the top flight league the previous year.
The platinum miners acquired all the best players in the country and assembled a grinding machine that mercilessly cruised for the trophy, only to lose the championship on the last day to eventual winners Dynamos.
One season down the line, the club had refurbished Mandava Stadium – their homeground – and turned it into one of the best football facilities in the country.
Now, Ngezi Platinum FC appear to have borrowed a similar blueprint, signing 17 players to build a formidable squad ahead of their maiden season in the top-flight league. And likewise, they are constructing a 10 000 to 15 000-seater stadium.
The new players were paraded at a ceremony to officially launch their historic campaign in the league at Hellenic Sports Club in Harare on Friday evening.
Former CAPS United and Dynamos striker Washington Pakamisa, who has been playing in the Mozambican League at Liga Desportivo Muculmana de Maputo, resurfaced in Ngezi Platinum colours with a host of other former PSL players.
Former Buffaloes defender Liberty Chakoroma, who has been in the books of South African premiership side Free State Stars, was also part of the team.
Other names included goalkeeper Blessing Mandimutsira, Kumbirai Kapikinyu, former Monomotapa midfielder Knowledge Machona, Zivanai Mhande and Tichaona Mabvura, formerly with Dynamos, as well as Tatenda Machisi, who was with CAPS United.
But unlike FC Platinum who had to enter an agreement with the Zvishavane Town Council for the use of Mandava, the Mhondoro-based platinum miners actually abandoned their small and patchy stadium to construct a new one just opposite Turf Shopping Centre, next to the old stadium.
Speaking on Friday night, club president Stanley Segula said they were not in the league to add numbers.
“We are not in the league to add numbers, nor to put pressure on our technical team and players, no. We are here to spice up the league. Any other target will be set after spending at least a season in the league,” Segula said.
Sport and Recreation minister Makhosini Hlongwane, who was part of the gathering, expressed delight to officiate the launch of a team that hails from a rural background, which he said was in line with the gospel that he had been preaching in the past weeks.
“My ministry has been preaching about associations decentralising sports to rural areas. And I am happy Ngezi is from a rural set up, right in Mhondoro. They have managed to bring PSL action to Mhondoro. Who in Mhondoro had ever dreamt of watching Highlanders and Dynamos playing there? No one,” Hlongwane said.
The history of Ngezi Platinum FC dates back to 2001 when the team was formed as a social team, then called Ngezi Sporto FC, before joining the Mashonaland West Division 2B in 2004 where they finished third in their first attempt.
The team stayed there until the time they won the Division 2B title and got promoted into the Northern Region Division One league. In 2014, the team started showing signs of competitiveness when they won the Yadah TV football tournament and finished fifth in the league that year.
Then the heavens smiled on them as hard work, determination and commitment paid off and saw them snatch the sole promotional ticket to the top-flight league in 2015.
During the campaign, Ngezi won 22 games, drew 10 and lost only two of their matches. One of their players Evans Katema was voted the region’s best player, while midfielder Innocent Sokosi was top goal scorer.