Ray Bande in Rusape
Mutare City Rovers . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Ngezi Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
NGEZI Platinum’s championship aspirations were dealt a heavy blow when they slumped to a shock defeat at the hands of struggling Mutare City Rovers in an otherwise dull Castle Lager Premier Soccer League tie at Vengere yesterday.
Ngezi Platinum, who were a pale shadow of the title-chasing outfit that has destroyed such giants like Dynamos on the road, are now four points behind leaders FC Platinum in this riveting race for the championship.
Even Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who was visibly distraught after the game admitted in his post match media conference that his charges had “performed very badly”.
Ndiraya also blamed the state of the pitch for the defeat.
“I think we performed very badly as a team. This defeat is very damaging to our chances to win the league championship. Everything was just not right from the onset of the match.
“The pitch was difficult, but that is no excuse for us. If a team wants to win the championship they have to visit every other stadium and collect points. I am greatly disappointed about the result especially the way we conceded that goal.
“That was a result of poor, clumsy defending. I also feel that we created a number of scoring chances that we failed to make use of. Mutare City just got a few chances than us and they managed to make the most of that chance they created,” Ndiraya said.
The drab encounter saw Mutare City Rovers scoring early in the 13th minute through Billy Vheremu who got to the end of a long clearance and beat advancing Ngezi goalkeeper Nelson Chadya.
Ndiraya then seemed to be searching for solutions upfront when he introduced Stephen Owusu for an out of sorts Tichaona Chipunza 10 minutes after the breather.
Owusu did not take long to get into the groove and the visitors could have drawn level in the 62nd minute when the striker’s tantalising cross fell to James Nguluve, who was napping.
Nguluve fluffed that clear cut scoring opportunity as he gave away possession after failing to control the ball a few metres away from goal.
The hosts had every reason to feel hard done by Rusape referee Brighton Chimene after the pint-sized match official waved play on after a goal bound Viali Tadzoka was heckled down in the box by Ngezi defender Liberty Chakoroma.
Spirited efforts by Ngezi Platinum to equalise remained in vain as their strikers kept taking turns to miss the scoring chances with Nguluve being the main culprit.
It did not come as much of a surprise when Ndiraya finally substituted him for Walter Mukanga with 10 minutes of regulation time remaining.
Mutare City Rovers gaffer Ndega Matsika thanked his players for playing according to instruction.
“I am really happy about the way my team played. They played according to instruction and we got the result that we badly needed in our fight to evade relegation.
“We are not going to be flattered by the result, very impressive as it might be because we still have a lot of work to do. We are now focusing on the next match with the hope that we will get the result that we want and be able to escape relegation,” said Matsika.
Mutare City Rovers: B. Mukunyadze; P. Gumbo; L. Mangaira; K. Bingala; J. Takunda; B. Mushunje (K. Njovo, 79th minute); J. Chitavira; B. Vheremu; V. Tadzoka; H. Zvakavapano; T. Kabanda:
Ngezi Platinum: N. Chadya; T. Mabvura; L. Chakoroma; K. Bulaji; T. Chipunza (S Owusu, 60th minute); K. Murera; F. Makarati; M. Chawodza; J . Nguluve (W. Mukanga 81st minute); D. Teguru; G. Murwira.