FC Platinum shot back to the top of the log standings after a comfortable win over Herentals at the National Sports Stadium yesterday, but their coach Norman Mapeza is not convinced that his team will be able to sustain the title charge.
BY HENRY MHARA
Goals from Cameroonian import Albert Eonde who volleyed from inside the penalty box on 14th minute and a Rodwell Chinyengetere header on 73rd minute with his first touch of the ball after coming on a substitute, has put the champions back on the driving seat in this season’s title race.
This was not the best of performances by this hugely depleted FC Platinum side, but they got what they wanted from this match.
“It was about a result today because we were missing about 10 of our regular players. Some are injured and about two guys are on suspension and another one who is with the Young Warriors squad so credit to those who played, they worked so hard,” Mapeza said.
“We have some challenges if I have to be honest with you and my main worry now is how we are going to move forward.
We are struggling, but we have to soldier on. To come here away from home and managed to come out with a result with this kind of squad is something that is quite pleasing. We will have to continue working hard and see how the season progresses.”
Mapeza was forced to make wholesale changes to his squad because of injuries to regulars William Stima, Perfect Chikwende, Given Nsila, Rahman Kutsanzira, goalkeeper Wallace Magalane and young Tawana Chikoore while the trio of Gift Bello, Gift Mbweti and Lawrence Mhlanga were suspended.
Hagiazo Magaya is in camp with the national Under-23 men’s squad.
So to win with such an impoverished squad, to many, shows depth in the squad. Mapeza thinks otherwise.
“For us to really think that we can push for the championship with the way we are is impossible. We don’t have depth at all. We will have to work hard because in terms of depth we don’t have it at the moment.”
Mapeza fielded three Under-19’s in the team, and while they did enough yesterday, but his main worry is that they won’t be able to cope especially with the Caf Champions League first round match coming up next week.
“If those guys (injured) don’t recover in time, that means these same guys who played today are going to play in the Champions League so you understand what I’m talking about,” Mapeza said.
In a match that never really got into second gear, Eonde fired home after some poor defending by the Herentals defense. That was probably the only major highlight of a tepid first half.
In the second half, the game improved a bit with both sides creating meaningful chances.
Blessing Maunganidze’s shot was cleared off the line for Herentals before Richard Hachiro fired over from inside the box after another meekly defensive clearance from the visitors following a free-kick.
Innocent Benza then tried to chip the outdrawn FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari, but his shot failed to gather enough flight and the goalie gathered comfortably.
Herentals were unlucky again on 75th minute when a goal bound shot was once again cleared off the line by Kelvin Mangiza in a period of sustained pressure by the home side.
But against the run of play, Chinyengetere headed in a Never Tigere corner kick, a goal that really took the wind out of Herentals’ sails.
Herentals: F Kuchinei, B Maunganidze (T Nasama, 59′), G Chinobva, B Majarira (R Chishawa, 78′), W Chimbetu, B Majarira, I Benza, R Hachiro, A Majarira, P Chiota (T Chitukutu, 78′), A Chipondeni
FC Platinum: P Mhari, R Muduviwa, E Tendayi, K Madzongwe, K Mangiza, D Chafa, R Pavari, N Tigere (M Dube, 88′), P Mutimbanyoka (C Sibanda, 63′), K Madera, A Eonde (R Chingenyengetere, 72′)