Rotation fix FCP defensive woes
Tadious Manyepo-Sports Reporter
FC PLATINUM’S defence has never been as terrible as it has been this season.
The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League reigning champions have always built their successful campaigns on solid defensive displays over the past four seasons.
They are never as brutal in front of goal as narrow margins, largely anchored on good work at the back have helped them to four consecutive league crowns.
But they appear to have lost that solidity after conceding 11 goals in as many matches this season.
That tally translates to a goal in every match they have played.
That’s very poor for a team that conceded only 14 goals the whole of last season and 15 in 2019 when Lizwe Sweswe led them to their third title on the trot.
In their opening 11 games last year, FC Platinum shipped six goals which is almost half of what they have already conceded at the same point this season.
Coach Norman Mapeza has tinkered with his defence often times this season with all players who can play in any defensive position having already kicked a ball this term.
Goalkeepers Wallace Magalane, Petros Mhari and Francis Tizayi have all had a go between the posts for the miners and the results have been the same.
However, the constant rotation seems to have worked well for Mapeza and his team.
Rather bizarrely, Nomore Chinyerere, a left-back and Rainsome Pavari (a midfielder) have partnered at the heart of defence in their recent games.
The pair played with conviction when FC Platinum kept a second clean sheet on the bounce-the first time they have achieved that feat this season, when dispatching struggling Black Rhinos 1-0 at the National Sports Stadium last Saturday.
The win also ensured FC Platinum remain within competing distance in what appears to be one of the tightest marathons in recent years.
Mapeza admits his team is not yet at a level that he desires especially defensively but he has every reason to be optimistic especially after shutting out their opponents in their previous two games.
Prior to their narrow victory over Black Rhinos last Saturday, the Zvishavane team had posted an identical win against ZPC Kariba at Mandava.
“Those things (struggles in winning matches) do happen and like what I said, it will come to pass.
“But we are still somewhere there in the woods and we are still trying to find our way out,” said Mapeza.
“We are just playing to win our games. We had problems (in defence), like any family we have challenges. We are trying to rectify the problems. It’s (defence) working now and like I have said, we are still in the woods. We are working to come out of it”.
It seems the Pavari-Chinyerere experiment might work for the team after some calamitous defending by Gift Bello, Misheck Ngwenya and Lawrence Mhlanga who have alternated the roles in the initial stages of the term.
Even Gift Mbweti who has since been converted to a right-back was at one point benched as Mhlanga occupied the flank with Ngwenya and Bello at the heart.