A super-charged platinum final

04 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
A super-charged platinum final Norman Mapeza

The Herald

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter

AT some point they formed a formidable team together at Monomotapa where they shocked all and sundry to win the club’s only league title, ahead of local Premiership football giants Dynamos.

They have since gone their separate ways and have met with considerable success in their coaching careers. Norman Mapeza is now in charge at FC Platinum while his former assistant at Monos, Rodwell Dhlakama, is enjoying good times at Ngezi Platinum Stars.

The former allies meet for the first time in a cup final tomorrow afternoon when they battle for the Chibuku Super Cup at Mandava. Kick-off is at 2pm.

For Mapeza, this is the third final appearance. Dhlakama, on the other hand, will be featuring for his second successive final following the exploits with Ngezi Platinum Stars in the last tournament held in 2019.

“I think on my part it’s a massive achievement. My wish is to go out there on Sunday and win the cup.

“Since the tournament started in 2014, this is my third cup final appearance with FC Platinum as a club and we are more than happy.

“Some of the guys that played in that first final are still around, so I think it’s also a massive achievement for them.

“But at the end of the day we are going to meet a strong team. Ngezi Platinum Stars have been doing very well of late. They are a very good team.

“I think Dhlakama has done really well in terms of coming up with a such competitive side. So it’s not going to be an easy game for us, but at the end of the day it’s, like I always say, how you prepare for these matches psychologically, physically and tactically. So we are expecting a tough game,” said Mapeza.

FC Platinum lifted the Chibuku Super Cup at its inauguration 2014. They reached the final again in 2016 but lost 1-3 to Ngezi Platinum, who were then under the tutelage of Tonderai Ndiraya.

FC Platinum have been successful with their junior players like Panashe Mutimbanyoka, Oscar Bhebhe and Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya, who have done well to compliment ‘’old war-horses’’ Rodwell Chinyengetere, Silas Songani, Donald Teguru and Lawrence Mhlanga.

They made their intentions clear by handing Dynamos their first defeat in the competition this year after the Harare giants had gone 12 games without tasting defeat.

Innocent Mucheneka scored the solitary goal of the match with a fiery free-kick from outside the box.  Baring late setbacks, FC Platinum have a clean bill of health.

“It’s a cup final and I am sure everybody will be want to be involved. So we just have to be smart in terms of how we are going to train and how we are going to deal with some other situations so that come Sunday we don’t have any injury worries,” said Mapeza.

Both teams have done well in the tournament. The platinum mines-backed teams lived up to the pre-tournament hype after sweeping all before them to set up a tantalising final date.

The fixture is almost a remake of the 2016 edition which was eventually won by Ngezi Platinum at their Baobab fortress in their debut year in the Premiership.

The Mhondoro side featured in the last final in 2019 when they lost in a contested final to Highlanders, much to the disappointment of their coach, Dhlakama.

The side has had a fine run in the competition this year and have lost only once in eight games.

“Going into the final for a second-year running, it’s important for me, it’s important for the team, it is also important for the fans and for the management. I want to be honest, cup games are always difficult,” he said.

“In 2019 we were robbed. I will never take that as a loss. It was a manufactured loss and it’s unfortunate the record will have that summation. But this is a different game, different opponents, but same objective, same expectation and same feelings. We want to win it,’’ Dhlakama said.

Interestingly, Ngezi Platinum Stars and FC Platinum were in the same group when the tournament got off in clusters during the preliminary round-robin.

The meetings between the two platinum mines rivals produced interesting duels with Ngezi Platinum Stars staging a late comeback in the first leg that ended in a 2-1 victory at Mandava. Bruno Mtigo stole the show late on, with a quick-fire brace.

FC Platinum got their measure of revenge in the reverse fixture, which also ended 2-1, courtesy of goals from Rainsome Pavari and Mucheneka.

Unlike FC Platinum who have a clean bill of health, Ngezi Platinum Stars will be without midfielder Wellington Taderera who is not travelling to Mandava due to an injury. The team doctors were also working round the clock on Denver Mukamba and Keith Murera.

Winners of the Chibuku Super Cup will pocket US$75 000 in prize money, to be paid in local currency at the prevailing official rate on the day. They also get the ticket to represent Zimbabwe in the next edition of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Runners-up are set to get US$50 000 consolation. The two losing semi-finalists Dynamos and Cranborne Bullets each walked away with US$25 000 for their efforts.

The teams that fell in the quarter-finals got US$15 000 while the 10 teams that failed to go past the round-robin stages received US$7 000 each.

Chibuku Super Cup final fixture:

Tomorrow: FC Platinum v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Mandava, 2pm)

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