By Tadious Manyepo
After seeing his charges suffer another depressing defeat to Herentals at the National Sports Stadium on Saturday, their fourth on the trot, Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya is a worried man. The platinum miners started the season like a house on fire, going for 14 matches without tasting defeat in a period Ndiraya also won the coach of the month accolade twice.
But, it appears, the ambitious outfit have lost their way after they failed to pick any points in their last four matches.
They have surrendered top spot to FC Platinum who now lead by six points.
Ndiraya had hoped the mid-season three-week break would help his men find their form but things haven’t gone to expectations.
Teenage forward Tinotenda Benza’s ferocious shot made sure Ngezi started the second half of the season on a losing note.
“The run is very disappointing, I thought we were going to regroup and start afresh but here we are, we lost again,” said Ndiraya.
“We have been conceding goals quite softly and you don’t expect that at this level of the game. It’s something which we have been trying to work on and we will continue to work on that.”
Ndiraya has largely been criticised for the way he has shuffled his back four in the past matches.
While the team’s natural left-back Qadr Amini is out injured, Keith Murera has always been deployed for that role and has been doing well while Kenneth Bulaji played at right-back for the better part of the first half of the season.
But, on Saturday in particular, the gaffer played Bulaji at left-back and the former CAPS United man looked jittery in that role and was largely to blame for the Herentals goal.
But Ndiraya defended his tactics.
“I am disappointed. As usual we failed to defend a simple ball that resulted into the goal. Our defenders failed to deal with a through ball and that has been the trend of late,” he said.
“Those are the things that we hope to be mending going forward but we are still hopeful that we will pick the points to take us to the Promised Land.
“Though we had covered much ground in the first half of the season, which is a good thing, we are not moving and it’s bad.
“We have lost 12 points in a row and that is a massive number for a team which is fighting for the honours and you get worried.
“All the departments have not been doing well of late, so we will have to sit down with the management and decide the way forward but, as the coach, we need to beef up some of these areas.”
With top marksman Terrence Dzvukamanja likely to head to South Africa, for a possible flirtation with Bidvest Wits, Ndiraya will have to dig even deeper to retain any chances of winning the title.
“He has scored several goals for us already this season.
“He has been a key member of our team and losing him means we would have potentially lost 15 or 20 goals.
“But, overall, the strike-force has been blunt and besides Dzvukamanja’s potential move, we had also planned to bring in someone who can score goals for us,” he said.
Ghanaian striker Steven Owusu, James Nguluve and Clive Augusto, who all showed a lot of promise in the early days of the campaign, are showing signs of losing their way.