Mapeza and the platinum curse. . . all they need is 4 wins out of 4 matches to lift title
Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
SIX years after their world collapsed in the penultimate match of the campaign, FC Platinum will be hoping that the curse doesn’t strike again this year to destroy their hopes to finally shed their bridesmaids tag and become champions of domestic football. Norman Mapeza and his men find themselves in second place in the race for the biggest prize in local football, with just four matches left in the race, and with their fate firmly in their hands to finally transform themselves into champions.
All they need is just four wins from their final four matches and they will be champions, irrespective of what happens elsewhere, and there some influential members in domestic football who feel this is the year the Zvishavane side will come of age. They have been one of the most consistent sides in the championship race since they exploded on the big stage in style in 2011 when they controlled the race for the better part of the campaign only for them to falter at the very end.
But they face the curse of the penultimate match again with the football gods, somehow, coming up with a script in which they are set to face their biggest challengers for the title, Ngezi Platinum, at Mandava in the second last match of the season. Six years ago, FC Platinum just needed a draw in their penultimate match of the season against their only challengers for the title, Dynamos, with the Zvishavane miners having the advantage of playing their game in their backyard.
Such were the huge expectations in Zvishavane that FC Platinum even bought some space in a Sunday newspaper congratulating themselves for winning the title while a number of traditional leaders were invited for what would have been their coronation. However, on the day in question, the weight of expectations proved too much for FC Platinum who crumbled to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of the Glamour Boys.
To add salt to injury, Daniel Veremu scored an own goal in that match while Benjamin Marere— who used to play for the Glamour Boys — missed a sitter. Mapeza will be hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice as he is set to take on a club that appears a rural clone of Dynamos — from their blue-and-white kit, their coaches, Tonderai Ndiraya and Gift Muzadzi, and players like Partson Jaure, Walter Mukanga, Godknows Murwira and Tichaona Mabvura. Some football experts have already given the title to FC Platinum. CAPS United coach, Lloyd Chitembwe, who edged FC Platinum in the race for the league championship last year, has already said he believed Mapeza and his men will be crowned champions this year.
“I tip FC Platinum to win the league crown for the first time this season and I have faith that Norman will walk on the podium this year for the second time in his career as coach. Norman is hungry for success and he is one coach who works hard, just like Tonderai (Ndiraya), but he has the edge over Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum as I feel experience will play a bigger part in the remaining games. When I won the championship I had to rely on the experience of Leonard (Tsipa).He scored vital goals for us and his presence in the team played a huge role. Mapeza has Chinyama (Takesure), Sadiki (Ali), Winston (Mhango), Gift (Bello) and Mkhokheli (Dube). I feel these are the players that can help win him the league although teamwork is very vital, from the fans, executive and players,’’ said Chitembwe.
Spencer Manguwa, a local football pundit who has done football analysis on ZTV, came up with a formula a few weeks ago in which he suggested that FC Platinum will be crowned champions with a two-point advantage. All his predictions about the outcome of the Zvishavane miners’ matches have come to pass.
“The 2017 Castle Lager Premiership race is heading for another thriller, with the possibility of goal difference deciding the winners of the gruelling marathon, in what is shaping up to be a classic,’’ he wrote. “But, from my predictions, I think FC Platinum will finally make history this time around by winning this league championship race by two points with Dynamos finishing second two points behind.
“I, somehow, correctly predicted in my analysis that the match between FC Platinum and the Green Machine would end in a draw even though I wasn’t so sure it would that dramatic with the champions scoring a late equaliser. FC Platinum, in my analysis, will collect 19 out of the remaining 21 points and that will also take their points tally to 72 and they will win the championship by two points.
“I believe the Zvishavane miners will beat Highlanders away from home (which they have done), beat Shabanie at home (which they have done), draw against Harare City away from home (which has also come to pass), beat ZPC Kariba at Maglas, beat Tsholotsho away from home, beat Ngezi Platinum at home and also beat Chapungu away from home in their final match. The six wins and one draw should power FC Platinum to 72 points and, finally, in my humble analysis, they will be crowned champions.’’ Manguwa believes Ndiraya will finish third. “Tonderai Ndiraya and his Ngezi Platinum Stars side, in my analysis, will finish in third place on 67 points,’’ he wrote. “Ndiraya has done a fine job at the Mhondoro miners, after being recruited at a time when things were not looking well, and to lead them to the Chibuku Super Cup last year and third place in the championship race this year should be viewed as progress.
“Rahman Gumbo and his Chicken inn will, in my analysis, finish fourth.’’