Platinum powers persist

The first 10 matches of the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League have generally told a story that was hardly unexpected, particularly about the dominance of the two platinum mining teams coached by Norman Mapeza and Tonderai Ndiraya respectively.

BY Kevin Mapasure

NewsDay Sport looks at some of the hightlights of the first 10 matches of the season.

Ngezi Platinum Stars and FC Platinum have already started to pull away from the other teams as the two sides threaten to make it a straight fight between themselves and condemn everyone else to being spectators.

The two teams which are separated by a single point have both had a near perfect season so far with Ngezi yet to taste defeat while FC Platinum have only lost once.

What an intriguing race it has already turned out to be for the two teams that have flexed their muscles in this early period of the season.

Ngezi have already had three of the big tests when they hosted Chicken Inn as well as the traditional giants Dynamos and Highlanders and winning both matches by an identical 1-0 scoreline.

It’s going to take some effort for anyone to get some points at the Baobab, from what has been seen so far, as Ngezi have managed to make it near to impossible to beat them there, not only because of the water-soaked pitch, but the efficiency of Ndiraya’s side on their home patch.

There they have played six matches, won them all and in the process scored 12 goals while they let in just one.

They have been a fierce force on the road too, having dispatched one of the stronger sides in the league, Triangle, but they have not travelled to Harare, which was a source of their troubles last season where they lost to Dynamos, United and Yadah.

At this stage last term, Ngezi had collected 22 points and this time they have added four. Ndiraya has already said that the target is to get more points than they did last season and they are doing just that.

This time they seem to have more depth after they bought and sold well and at the weekend they brought in the hitherto unused Donald Teguru and James Nguluve, “just to freshen up things,” as Ndiraya put it. They can afford that, with the wealth of depth in their ranks.

On the other hand, their rivals FC Platinum have collected five more points than they had at this stage last season, where they went on to win the league title.

Their only blemish is that defeat to Bulawayo Chiefs in Bulawayo, but they celebrated their draw against Caps United at the National Sports Stadium as if it was a win.

They lost to Caps in Harare last season in one of just two defeats. They have seen a marked improvement from where they were last season.

But at this stage Highlanders are refusing to disappear from the radar. After Madinda Ndlovu came in and made a raft of changes doing away with the old guard to inject youth in the team, it was difficult to predict what sort of side would emerge.

They have emerged strongly playing some beautiful passing football which has seen them reap the rewards.

At 20 points from 10 matches, they are three points better off than they were at the same stage last season.

But they have born the brunt of costly blunders particularly by their goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda. Apart from the “waterlogged pitch”, Ndlovu pointed out that they lost the match against Ngezi due to a goalkeeping error.

Sibanda was also blamed for gifting ZPC Kariba with two goals that gave the struggling power utility side their first set of three points.

Considering that their front runners have been near to perfect, Bosso cannot afford such blunders, lest the gap further widens beyond repair.

Apart from that Bosso have probably been the best entertainers and Mapeza’s side can rival them in that regard and maybe Harare City too.

Chicken Inn are also working hard to force themselves in the title equation and with the experience of Joey Antipas on the technical bench it was to be expected.

After 10 matches last season they were already 21 points to the good but at this stage they have 19, having won five matches drawn four and lost one.

Four draws in 10 matches is usually not a bad return but considering the rate at which the platinum miners are going, it suddenly becomes a bad set of results.

The surprise package of the season so far is a tussle between Nichrut and Triangle. With the coach they have in Taurai Mangwiro and the players he has recruited, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Low veld side are placed fifth on the table with 19 points.

But it is their struggles last season where they were fighting relegation, which might have seen some condemning them as one of the expected strugglers this term.
After losing the first two matches of the season Triangle lifted themselves and went on a five-match winning streak which was ended by Harare City before they bounced back to beat Bulawayo Chiefs at the weekend.

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