by Sakheleni Nxumalo
Bulawayo Chiefs . . . (1) 1
Ngezi Platinum . . . . . . . 0
Veteran midfielder, Gracious Muleya scored the goal that made all the difference from the penalty spot on 31 minutes after Ndazi ruled that Chiefs striker, Farau Matare had been fouled inside the penalty box by Ngezi Platinum goalkeeper, Donovan Bernard.
The visitors earlier had their appeals for a penalty ignored by the Hwange-based Ndazi after their speedy winger, Michael Charamba had gone to the ground under challenge from Chiefs central defender, Polite Moyo inside the hosts’ penalty area.
Ngezi Platinum coach, Tonderai Ndiraya expressed his misgivings about the match officiating at the post match Press conference.
“It was a very difficult match for us in which many things happened, which obviously I am not happy with as a coach. To note, was the penalty decision that we were not given when there was a clear impediment when Charamba was going for goal, but the referee saw otherwise and the penalty that went against us was unfair, as there was no infringement and the keeper won the ball fairly,” he said.
The former Dynamos midfielder also raised concerns over how two of his players had been sent off.
“I feel the referee was too harsh on us, and when that happens and the match officials makes such mistakes it changes the whole complexion of the game and with nine men, it was always going to be difficult for us,” he said.
Second half substitutes Clive Agusto, who replaced the injured Walter Mukanga on 53 minutes and Xolisani Moyo, who came in for Nelson Ketala on 73 minutes spent a mere nine minutes each on the pitch before being sent for an early shower by Ndazi.
Augusto had initially been booked for diving, but kept arguing his case with the referee leading to him being shown a second yellow card.
Moyo, on the other hand, could have been a victim of mistaken identity after Chiefs left-back, Shadreck Nyahwa had tumbled to the ground in an off the ball altercation with Charamba and the first assistant referee, Emmanuel Mugwagwa identified the former Bulawayo City linkman as the offending party after he had been very vocal in the aftermath of the incident.
Chiefs coach, Garthly Chipuka heaped praise on his charges and said their approach to the game had paid dividends.
“On the eve of the game, the boys promised me that they would win this match and credit must go to them for their fighting spirit, as it carried the day for us. Ngezi are a very good side and they were still very dangerous even when they were two men down, but the boys fought till the end,” he said.
Yesterday’s defeat left Ngezi Platinum tied on 38 points with second placed FC Platinum on the log with the two sides up against each other in the next round of matches.
Chiefs moved up to 11th on the log following yesterday’s victory with 15 points to their credit.
Bulawayo Chiefs: K Nyoni, M Mkolo, S Nyahwa, P Moyo, A Tandi, G Muleya, T Muzuva, B Manhire (A Musiyiwa 74), P Chikwende (E Chidavaenzi 93), M Majika (L Ndlela 88).
Ngezi Platinum: D Bernard, K Bulaji, L Chakoroma, N Ketala (X Moyo 73), J Nguluve, T Mabvura (D Teguru 61), G Murwira, W Mukanga (C Augusto 62), M Charamba, F Mukarati, T Chipunza.