CHAMPIONSHIP-CHASING Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya is haunted by his side’s continued struggles against ‘small teams’ in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League as he guns for his maiden league title with the Mhondoro-based club.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Ndiraya could not hide his frustration on Saturday when Ngezi Platinum (with 60 points) lost 1-0 to troubled Bulawayo City at Barbourfields Stadium, retreating five points behind log-leaders FC Platinum, who are seeking their second title after clinching it last year.
It was their seventh defeat of the season, with six of the matches lost to so-called small boys — Bulawayo Chiefs, Black Rhinos, Herentals, Mutare City, Yadah and Bulawayo City.
“It’s worrying that we are dropping points to minnows, so to speak. When you are fighting for the championship, you don’t want to drop points in that manner. But this is what has happened. It’s quite disappointing because when you are fighting for the championship you want to show character, especially in matches like this. We just have to focus on our next matches and see what happens,” Ndiraya said.
He added: “It all comes back to the mentality of the players. When we play the so-called small teams, they tend to switch off and take things casually and before you know it, you have lost a match. When you try to recover, it becomes difficult and in all the matches that we have lost, we have conceded first and failed to come back. We have failed to show character to recover from those matches.”
Ndiraya said it is unfortunate that they now have to wait for other teams to disturb FC Platinum, while they are now forced to win all their remaining matches.
They are up against Chapungu at home in their next assignment before taking on Harare City away.
Ngezi Platinum’s last three matches are against Bulawayo Chiefs, FC Platinum and Black Rhinos, and they lost all the first round matches to the three sides in June.
“Hopefully, we will correct this in the matches to come. We are now banking on other teams to stop FC Platinum. By the time we play them (FC Platinum), we will be somewhere there close,” Ndiraya said.
Ngezi Platinum are away to FC Platinum in their penultimate fixture of the season at Baobab Stadium.
After the defeat to Bulawayo City, he said he believes they are still in the race for the title.
“I still believe very much. I still do. We still have 15 points to play for. We are separated by five points (with FC Platinum). I still think we can pull something. This is football. Before Wednesday (last week), no one ever thought we would have covered the gap to two points, but here again we are back to five points. We are just hoping that we will recover from this and get points in the next matches,” he said.