Ray Bande in MUTARE
MANICALAND’s flagship football club Manica Diamonds officially sealed their place into next year’s Premiership over the weekend when they took their tally to an unassailable 69 points with five matches to spare in the ZIFA Eastern Region Division One League.
The Gem Boys, as Manica Diamonds are fondly referred to by their increasing fan base in the eastern border city, were confirmed Eastern Region Division One champions after second placed Tenax fell to Bikita Minerals 3-2 on Saturday at Lithium Stadium in Bikita.
The result left correctional services outfit Tenax trailing the log leaders by 17 points, a margin that is unassailable given that there are just five rounds of matches which can only yield 15 points.
While Tenax were losing, Manica Diamonds were stretching their lead at the summit of the table to 20 points when they beat Melfort 2-0 at Mutare Boys High grounds on Sunday in a match that also marked veteran goalkeeper Jorum Muchambo’s 17th clean sheet.
The Gem Boys’ Roderick “Jecha” Mupfudza thrust his team into the lead before the league’s current top goal scorer Steven ‘Dealer’ Sibanda capped a fine performance with a second half goal.
It was pomp and funfair after the final whistle for the sizeable crowd that gathered at Mutare Boys High grounds as they celebrated Manica Diamonds’ promotion.
Club chairman Masimba Chihowa said it had been a dream that had become a reality. “I really want to thank everyone who made this dream a reality. We are happy to have finally secured promotion officially. Coach Luke Masomere said their early promotion would give them more time to prepare for life in the elite league.“Make no mistake we are not going to be easy opponents in the Premiership.