BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS United . . . . … . . . . . . . 0
FC Platinum. . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 1
FC Platinum’s dominance of the local league is showing no signs of abating after the Zvishavane side showed a lot of determination and character to beat CAPS United and seal their third straight Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
So determined to defend the trophy was the visitors that they had to do it with 10 men for the whole second half after midfielder Guyve Nsiala had been red-carded at half-time after a scuffle with CAPS United goalkeeper’s coach Witness Munkuli, who also saw red for his troubles.
This was FC Platinum’s first ever league win over United away from home since getting promoted.
The champions had actually beaten CAPS United once in the league, way back in 2014. That’s how bad history was stacked against them going into the title decider.
Incredibly, they never looked like they were bothered by those little statistical matters when match day referee Prince Mathumo blew to start the match.
Perfect Chikwende scored the perfect goal of the day on 59th minute, connecting first time after Rodwell Chinyengetere’s shot had been blocked.
For CAPS United, they have themselves to blame for yesterday’s heartbreak.
They threw this title away themselves. Not so long ago, they were seven points clear on top of the log, but they dropped crucial points in matches that they were supposed to win.
It was always going to be difficult for them to recover from that confidence-sapping defeat against Ngezi, where a victory would have left them needing just a point to win the title yesterday.
A distraught United coach Darlington Dodo conceded that the title was lost before yesterday’s match.
“There are some games, where we should have probably done better in the course of the season and get the results that we wanted. But we let those games go, and in the end, we were playing under pressure,“ said the CAPS coach.
“We had a very good season, and as much as we wanted to win the league, but probably God had other plans.“
For a season that promised so much, but delivered so little, the CAPS United fans will be further disappointed to realise that their team ended up finishing the season third, behind Chicken Inn.
For FC Platinum, they will be partying for the whole of this week. The players danced with their supporters after the match, a huge crowd that was ferried from Zvishavane to Harare in 10 buses and several cars.
“We showed character and self-belief within the group that saw us fighting until the last minute,” said FC Platinum coach Lizwe Sweswe.
“We didn’t want to play for a draw because we would have gone with a defensive approach and lost focus. We came here to attack and it was clear from the start. I’m happy we managed to achieve what we wanted, and the boys can celebrate this. They deserve it,” Sweswe added.
The visitors started the match like a house on fire, and should have scored at least three goals in the opening 20 minutes of the match, with Chikwende, Chinyengetere, Never Tigere and Gift Mbweti all wasting very good opportunities.
Blessing Sarupinda had the best chance for United in the first half, but his shot from inside the box was saved well.
Tigere was lucky not to see a red card after he pushed Valentine Musarurwa to the ground on 26th minute in an off the ball incident. He got away with a yellow, much to the disappointment of Caps United.
But as Mathumo blew his whistle to end the first half, tempers, which were already flaring, boiled.
Mnkuli appeared to force himself into the FC Platinum huddle, and Nsiala lost it. The Congolese pushed the goalkeeper’s coach to the ground. A melee between the two teams ensued. And when things had calmed, the referee flashed red cards to the two culprits.
With a man down in the second half, FC Platinum were more defensive in their play, but always looked dangerous on the break.
The defining moment came when Chinyengetere tried a shot from distance, and the ball hit an opponent before looping behind the United defence.
Chikwende used his pace to out run the defence and fired past the stranded goal keeper Tonderai Mateyaunga.
Needing two goals to win, United threw in all their attackers, but Platinum managed to hold on to win the title.
CAPS United: T Mateyaunga, V Musarurwa, S Masunda, J Jangano, H Zvirekwi (J Zhuwawu, 71’), D Mukandi (D Chungwa, 60’), J Ngodzo, P Bamusi, B Sarupinda, K Ndebele (R Chitiyo, 65’), N Sianchali.
FC Platinum: F Tizayi, R Muduviwa, G Bello, W Stima, T Chikoore, K Madzongwe, N Tigere (H Magaya, 92’), R Chinyengetere, G Mbweti, G Nsiala (red-card halftime), P Chikwende (R Pavari, 70’).
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Matchday 34 results & fixtures:
Saturday: CAPS United 0-1 FC Platinum, CAPS United 0-1 FC Platinum, Mushowani Stars 2-3 Yadah, Hwange 1-0 ZPC Kariba, Triangle United 1-0 Dynamos, Chapungu 2-2 Highlanders, Harare City 0-0 Ngezi Platinum, Bulawayo Chiefs 0-1 Herentals, Chicken Inn 4-1 TelOne
Sunday: Black Rhinos v Manica Diamonds (NSS).