ZVISHAVANE – FC Platinum finally turned on the after-burners as they beat ZPC Kariba 3-0 on Saturday to go top of the log in this thrilling Castle Lager Premiership title race.
With their title rivals Ngezi Platinum Stars and Dynamos all in action this afternoon, Norman Mapeza’s side needed to win at all costs to seize the opportunity with only three games to go.
The platinum miners got their goals all in the first half when Charles Sibanda scored a brace while Mkhokheli Dube netted the other one in the demolition of the visitors.
FC Platinum are now on 63 points, three ahead of second-placed Ngezi while Chicken Inn are in third with 59. DeMbare still have an outside chance in fourth place with 58 points.
Mapeza was full of praise for his side after a confident display that gave them a crucial advantage with three games to go.
“First half, it was brilliant, they played very well. I knew second half they were going to come at us but we were disciplined at the back. I’m happy, the guys worked so hard,” Mapeza said.
The former Zimbabwe captain conceded that pressure was mounting and they would need to keep delivering similar strong performances in their remaining three games to land the title.
“Pressure is mounting but the most important thing is we have won the game. We can’t really say we are back on top because the other teams are going to play tomorrow and it’s game on,” he said.
“We still have three massive games to play and we just have to concentrate on our game.”
ZPC Kariba coach Sunday Chidzambwa fumed at his players for putting in a shoddy first half performance that left them with a mountain to climb for the remainder of the match.
“I’m not only disappointed, I’m very disappointed. If you put on a football uniform and put up such a performance . . . I would rather stay at home,” Chidzambwa said.
“Most of our guys didn’t come here to play football, they came for a stroll and we need to change that attitude in each and every game we play.”
Chidzambwa said his team would need to have a serious introspection if they want to keep playing in the top division next season.
“We really need to look at ourselves considering that we need to play in the league again next season, this kind of performance leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.
“So I think in short we didn’t play well, we got punished. Our opponents played very well, they knocked the ball around very well and they got three easy goals and they got the points.”
He said once they fell behind it was never going to be easy to chase the game.
“We made three blunders in the first half and we got punished for that and from that moment we started to chase the game and it’s difficult to chase if you are three nil down,” Chidzambwa said.
FC Platinum were ruthless in the opening half and they quickly scored the opening goal in the sixth minute when Sibanda was sent through by Rodwell Chinyengetere.
The home side continued to press on the gas pedal but they had to wait until the 35th minute to get their second goal when Dube provided an easy finish from inside the box.
Sibanda completed his brace two minutes before the break with a perfect free kick that gave the visitors’ goalkeeper no chance.
In the second half, FC Platinum sat deep as they knew they had secured the necessary goals to win the match allowing the visitors to have all the possession.
ZPC, however, could not find any way through the home side’s defence to get a face saver.