Ngezi Platinum Stars (1) 3
Highlanders (0) 0
A brace by Tichaona Mabvura and another one by Terrence Dzvukamanja saw Ngezi Platinum Stars hand struggling Highlanders a third consecutive defeat at Boabab Stadium in Mhondoro-Ngezi yesterday.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE IN MHONDORO
It was a match in which the Bosso players simply rolled over while a second half clash between the two sets of fans dented the hosts’ emphatic victory.
But the latest defeat signals a crisis for the country’s oldest club.
And for Ngezi, their title charge is back on track following last week’s defeat to CAPS United in Harare.
“We have done well against a big team because critics were saying we’re only doing well against small teams,” Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya said after the match.
Ndiraya spoke about the pressure at the top of the table as the season draws close.
“Honestly, we are a small fish in the pond and to be surrounded by big teams like Dynamos, Chicken Inn, CAPS United and FC Platinum is quite frightening. But I am pleased by what we have done so far.
“Our team’s target is a top four finish, but having such a target doesn’t mean we don’t want the title. We will keep pushing and who knows, we may revise our targets towards the end.”
With the exception of Mabvura’s opener, the first half was a dull affair with little goal mouth action considering the profile of the two teams.
Ngezi Platinum’s Qadr Amini came close to breaking the deadlock nine minutes before half time, but his well-hit freekick skimmed off the bar with Ariel Sibanda beaten.
But Mabvura made sure five minutes later with a sweetly-struck volley from the edge of the box.
Amini delivered a swinging cross, which Dzvukamanja failed to connect well and the loose ball invitingly fell onto Mabvura’s cultured right foot.
The hosts took a slender lead to the break.
The platinum miners could have doubled the lead seconds after the restart after a low Amini cross sneaked under Sibanda’s body, but defender Peter Muduhwa emerged from nowhere to clear off the line.
After the missed chance, Highlanders dominated possession but failed to breach the Ngezi rearguard, much to the disappointment of their fans, who vented their anger on the ball boys just after the hour mark.
They felt the ball boys were wasting time and pelted them with missiles.
A clash between the two sets of fans ensued until police intervened, leaving a number of fans injured.
Dzvukamanja doubled the lead in the 66th minute, beating Rahman Kutsanzira in the race for a Mabvura through ball before coolly slotting the ball home.
Clive Augusto could have made it three a minute later after coming face-to-face with Sibanda, who, however, produced a brilliant save.
It didn’t matter because Mabvura completed his brace 17 minutes to fulltime from inside the box, doing justice to a Dzvukamanja pass.
Substitute Donald Teguru was denied by the upright post a minute before fulltime.
Under-fire Highlanders coach Erol Akbay admitted that pressure was mounting.
“Pressure is always there when you don’t win, but it’s because we don’t have strikers. We had no money to buy, so we have to play with what we have,“ he said.
“We wanted to win the championship at the beginning. I had to teach Prince Dube and Roderick [Mutuma] how to play and they were beginning to have a good combination. And when you lose these two guys and you have no replacement as a coach, it is very difficult.”
Ngezi Platinum: N Chadya, T Mchisa, T Dzvukamanja (W Pakamisa 83’), P Jaure, L Chakoroma, C Augusto (D Teguru 71’), G Murwira, K Murera, T Mabvura, E Mhungu (D Mukandi 75’), Q Amini.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, R Kutsanzira, K Nadolo (B Banda 77’), Simon Munawa, G Makaruse (N Ndlovu 59’), P Muduhwa, T Ngulube, H Moyo, E Mudzingwa, B Phiri
Today: All matches kickoff at 3pm – Bantu Rovers v How Mine (Barbourfields), Triangle v Bulawayo City (Gibbo), Tsholotsho v Shabanie (Dulivhadzimo), Dynamos v Yadah FC (Rufaro).
Yesterday: FC Platinum 1-0 Black Rhinos, Chapungu 0-0 CAPS United, ZPC Kariba 2-1 Harare City, Chicken Inn 1-0 Hwange, Ngezi Platinum 3-0 Highlanders.