HARARE – Well-travelled Shabanie Mine coach Luke Masomere halted his three-game winless run with a welcome victory over title-chasing Monomotapa on Saturday and immediately declared that his Zvishavane side are in the title race.
After the three-game barren run in the Castle Premiership, many football followers had ruled out the asbestos miners’ chances of lifting their first league title ever.
But buoyed by his side’s late 2-1 victory over another title dark horse Monomotapa, a boastful Masomere attacked the popular view that this year’s title race is a tug-of-war between log leaders Highlanders and reigning Zimbabwe champions Dynamos.
“Shabanie Mine is also putting a strong title challenge; it is no longer a two-horse race,” said Masomere.
“You journalists have all along been saying that it is a race between Dynamos and Highlanders, but today we have shown we are very much there in the race. We had some serious internal problems at Shabanie that have since been resolved. There is no point in continuing to talk about that issue any more. But the truth is that we will give a strong title push.”
Shabanie’s victory on Saturday, courtesy of a double by the Premiership’s leading goal scorer Nelson Maziwisa, was, ironically, over third-placed Monomotapa whose new coach Biggie Zuze also threw his hat in the title race last week.
Zuze, whose five-game reign at the 2008 Zimbabwe champions has yielded three victories, one draw and a loss ever since he took over from Taurai Mangwiro, believes Saturday’s loss to Shabanie has not irreparably harmed his team’s title-winning chances.
“We cannot give up now because we still have 10 games to play. There is still 30 points to play for which means a lot can still happen.”
The former Dynamos midfielder, though, has to address his team’s blunt attack which spurned a series of good chances.
“We could have wrapped up the match in the first half. We created three clear chances,” he said after the game.
Monoz were virtually camped in the Zvishavane side’s half particularly in the first half but without their injured striker Tawanda Nyamandwe they were totally toothless.
The 2008 Zimbabwe champions played a touch too many in the box all afternoon and even when they found themselves with just goalie Victor Twaliki to beat, they either shot wide or weakly at the imposing Shabanie goalie.
Monoz’s goal against Shabanie, scored by Ronald Chitiyo, was scored in rather controversial circumstances. Assistant referee Tendai Chavhanga flagged for hand ball but the goal stood after he was overruled by referee Brighton Chimene.