Zvishavane — A dark cloud hung over Zvishavane after Shabanie Mine became the first team to be relegated from the Castle Lager Premiership this soccer season following a narrow defeat at the hands of Harare City at a chilly Maglas yesterday.
Tatenda Tumba scored the deciding goal six minutes from time.
Yesterday’s result meant Shabanie, on 19 points, cannot accumulate more than the 32 points which the team who occupy the last relegation slot, Nichrut, can get in the last four games of the season. The financially hamstrung outfit had gone for 15 matches without tasting victory with their last win coming at home way back in May against Bulawayo Chiefs.
And it was always going to be difficult for the “Elevator Club” to stitch a victory against the Sunshine City Boys, especially after missing a huge opportunity to take the lead inside the first minute when Joseph Sibanda’s penalty was saved by Ryan Harrison.
Shabanie Mine could have delayed the chop had they managed to hold on for a draw after putting on a spirited show which deserved at least a draw in yesterday’s match.
But their defence failed to deal with a perfectly flighted Takudzwa Chimwemwe free-kick and second-half substitute Tatenda Tumba latched to bundle home the rebound.
Though the hosts tried to press hard towards the end of the game, they were on three pin-point situations that were denied by the in-form Harare City goal-minder Harrison.
While Shabanie, whose third flirtation in the top-flight lasted two seasons having been promoted in 2016 were left in despair, it was delirium on the visitors’ part who moved two places up to fifth on the log. They took their points tally to 45, leapfrogging CAPS United and Highlanders.
Most Shabanie fans remained glued on their seats long after the final whistle after their team exited the league with four games still to play.
The former asbestos miners were left with only 17 players on their register after a host of their stars crossed to other clubs as lack of sponsorship took its toll. They also parted ways with youthful gaffer Takesure Chiragwi in the same period and they never won a single game since his departure.
And after such sad developments, they were always going to find it difficult to stay afloat.
Shabanie’s coach Alexio Sigion was naturally disappointed after his team’s demotion but said they will give their all in the remaining fixtures.
“It’s always disappointing to be relegated with four rounds of matches still to be played but as you saw we gave it our best shot.
“With financial difficulties rocking our ship we always knew it would be difficult for us to keep our heads above the water but we kept on working hard as we wanted to be a fair play team.
“We will continue to work hard in our last four matches. We should have lived to fight another day but we missed a lot of chances including a penalty today. It’s unfortunate and tough luck.”
Harare City coach Mark Harrison was happy to collect the maximum points.
“I knew the pitch was unplayable so we had to be direct in our approach and we did just that . . . I am happy with the result,” Mark Harrison said. “I am happy for the boys and we have to keep on pushing hard to finish the season strongly.
“Shabanie is a difficult side to beat especially at their own home but I am glad my lads played according to instruction and we won.”
The visitors would have won by even a wider margin but Denzel Chimwemwe, Martin Vengesai and Tellmore Pio all fluffed their lines.