Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
HAVING already surrendered the fight for a maiden Premiership title, Ngezi Platinum Stars have moved to tie down their key players as they bid to win the championship next season.
The Mhondoro miners were primed to land the 2018 championship having displayed inspiring intent in the early stages of the season.
But somehow, the wheels came off what had appeared a seemingly well-drilled outfit and as Ngezi faltered, FC Platinum seized the initiative. Although at some point especially in the past few weeks, Ngezi tried to pile pressure on the leaders, their panic-driven move to axe coach Tonderai Ndiraya with only five matches to play backfired in cruel fashion.
They then elevated assistant coach Clifton Kadurira to the helm.
But Kadurira could do nothing to stop the FC Platinum juggernaut from marching towards the title and be crowned for the second time on the spin and this time with a luxury of two games to spare.
It has however, emerged that after accepting their fate after securing second spot Ngezi, have shifted their focus on laying a firm foundation with the hope of building a success story next season.
The team’s management have since begun to negotiate fresh deals for senior players whose contracts run out at the end of this year.
Yet Ngezi could be forced to be more generous in their negotiations with such players as captain Liberty Chakoroma and Tichaona Mabvura after newly promoted cash-rich Manica Diamonds expressed interests in the pair.
The duo is originally from Mutare and there are indications that they are being tempted to switch to the Dimaond miners.
Still, both players have made cameo substitute appearances for Ngezi since the departure of Ndiraya.
Chakoroma has stood out for the modest side at the heart of defence where he has partnered well with Frank Makarati and he is one of the reasons why Ngezi have been giving very little despite him being a natural midfielder.
But, Kadurira prefers twinning Makarati with Polite Moyo for the role and Chakoroma has been reportedly expressed his frustration on being benched. Mabvura, on the other hand has also fallen down the perking order with Kadurira playing Michael Charamba and Donald Teguru on either side of midfield.
Former Dynamos anchorman Tichaona Chipunza is also understood to be considering his future away from Baobab.
But the club’s chairman Jeremiah Gasitene yesterday said his team was running around to renew contracts of their core players. Gasitene said Ngezi would be retaining most of their current players as they aim to win the league in the coming term.
“I can’t name all the players whose contracts expire at the end of this season because I am not in the office at the moment but I can confirm that we have since started negotiations with them in the view of retaining their services.
“Look, we had a very good season and we are still pushing to tally good points though we have already surrendered the title fight. We need most if not all the players who did duty for us this season so definitely, we will try and retain them,” said Gasitene.
Simba Nhivi, whom Ngezi plucked from CAPS United has returned to action after he suffered a broken arm on his first training session with the club and will be expected to play a key part in the team’s quest to achieve their goals next season.
Experienced left-back Qadr Amini has also recovered after spending the entire season on the sidelines with a delicate knee sprain. While the team’s battle to keep their star players intensifies, some are expected to be offloaded.
Ghanaian striker Steven Owusu, who arrived amid high expectations but failed to make any impact save for the single assist against Highlanders at home back in July could be on his way out.
There is also speculation that Tatenda Mchisa, Clive Augusto and Xolisani Moyo could also be off-loaded.