HARARE – Newly-crowned PSL champions FC Platinum capped off their fine 2017 season with another piece of silverware after beating Harare City 2-1 in the Castle Challenge Cup final here yesterday.
Soccer Star of the Year finalist Rodwell Chinyengetere justified his place among the country’s best 11 this season with a beautiful strike in the first half while striker Mkhokheli Dube scored the other goal in the second half.
For Harare City, who were relegated to the second-tier Zifa Northern Region Division One League, substitute Kuda Kumwala scored the consolation but it was rather too little too late to mount a comeback.
And having already won the Castle Lager Premiership title last weekend, FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza saluted his charges for a job well done following a memorable season.
The platinum miners became the first team outside Harare or Bulawayo to win the Zimbabwe league title since independence in 1980.
Since their promotion into the top flight in 2011, Pure Platinum Play have had several near misses but they finally got it right this year and yesterday’s triumph was the icing on the cake.
“We talked about this game before and this was what we wanted,” Mapeza said.
“But it's not only about me, it’s for the fans, the executive and everyone associated with the club. I am happy for the players they worked really well throughout the season; they deserve all this.”
FC Platinum started the game on the front foot dictating pace and it was no surprise when they surged ahead through Chinyengetere's beautiful goal from the edge of the box after he was teed up by defender Elvis Moyo.
The platinum miners somehow slowed the tempo allowing Harare City to claw back into the game and on 14 minutes Martin Vengesai almost found the equaliser but his effort crashed against the upright after getting to the end of a Protasho Kabwe through pass.
With the Sunshine Boys piling on the pressure, FC Platinum reacted by bringing in holding midfielder Gerald Takwara in place of Nqobizitha Masuku to bring stability in midfield.
City kept on pushing forward and on 41 minutes right back Takudzwa Chimwemwe was unlucky after his effort also hit the upright following a quick break.
After withstanding the Sunshine Boys pressure, the home side was probably relieved with the halftime whistle while they still carried their lead.
However, immediately after the break, all the good work the Sunshine Boys had done to try and find an equaliser was undone by some sloppy goalkeeping by Maxwell Nyamupanedengu.
The City goalkeeper, who was making a return to the line up after a long injury layoff fumbled a shot from Ali Sadaki allowing Dube to finish with an easy tap-in.
It will probably be the easiest goal the veteran forward has ever scored in his career and it gave Pure Platinum Play a healthy lead to sit back on.
From there on, City enjoyed all the possession as the home side was content with their two-goal lead and the move looked to have backfired when Kumwala pulled one back three minutes from time.
FC Platinum had to hold on for a nervy finish but in the end, they did enough to secure the win and another trophy to sit next to the league title in their trophy cabinet.
Harare City coach Philani Ncube said: “I'm not disappointed as such with the result. We had two or three chances which we failed to utilise but it happens, we have to accept it.”
The Castle Challenge Cup was introduced at the start of the season to celebrate the Premier Soccer League’s 25th anniversary.
The once-off match featured the league champions FC Platinum and the Chibuku Super Cup winners Harare City.
For their victory, Pure Platinum Play pocketed $30 000 while the Sunshine Boys will return to Harare with $20 000.
FC Platinum: Wallace Magalane, Ian Nekati, Gift Bello, Kelvin Moyo, Elvis Moyo, Winston Mhango (Bret Amidu 86m), Rodwell Chinyengetere, Nqobizitha Masuku (Gerald Takwara 36m), Gift Mbweti (Hillary Bakacheza 62m), Ali Sadiki, Mkhokeli Dube
Harare City: Maxwell Nyamupanedengu, Tendai Samanja, Edwin Madhanhanga, Martin Vengesai, Jerry Chipangura (Tinashe Balakasi 54m), Peace Tshuma, Welcome Ndiweni, William Manondo, Takudzwa Chimwemwe, Protasho Kabwe, Hastings Chapusha