HARARE – Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya felt his team lacked “mental strength” after they were beaten to the Castle Lager Premiership title by FC Platinum.
For the better part of the season, the results had favoured the Ngezi Platinum miners and many had tipped them to walk-away with the title in their second year in the top flight league.
However, Ndiraya’s charges choked at the crucial stage after being held 2-2 at home by Chicken Inn before losing 2-1 to FC Platinum away at Mandava Stadium which eventually ended their title aspirations with only a game to go before the season ends.
Ndiraya admitted his team failed to find the character to stand the heat in a gruelling battle for the championship that saw them eventually finish the season in third place seven points behind FC Platinum.
“I think it was an exciting season for us, the one which we enjoyed a lot. We had set ourselves a top four finish which we achieved comfortably,” Ndiraya told the Daily News.
“After we had done that and found that we were leading the race at some point we had to shift that target to winning the championship. We tried, we pushed hard but eventually FC Platinum and Dynamos finished stronger than us.
“It was quite disappointing but I think it all goes down to mental strength. We lacked that mental strength at a very crucial stage.”
Ndiraya said losing their playmaker Tichaona Mabvura to a family bereavement towards the end of the season also contributed to their failure to win the last three matches which could have landed them the title.
“And again there are also other factors which contributed as we had to finish the season without one of our best players (Tichaona)Mabvura when he lost his father,” he said.
“Also Terrence Dzvukamanja picked up an injury at a very crucial stage of the season and it slowed down our team’s momentum. So all those factors affected our performance towards the end of the season but I am quite happy with what the team has achieved in its second year in the league.
“I think it goes on to show that the future of the team is very bright. We have done well in our first year finishing in the top eight and finished third this season and hopefully we will push our target next season for first or second place.
“What is now required is for us to start working and preparing the team during the off season.
“We expect to beef up the squad with one or two faces so that we can launch a serious challenge come next year.”