Rarely do you have teams from small towns like Zvishavane and Ngezi square off and hogging so much of the limelight as much as FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars have in their blockbuster clash in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match this afternoon.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
The stakes couldn’t be higher as the league’s richest clubs collide in a potential league decider.
FC Platinum are the big brother, only in as much as they have been in the topflight longer than Ngezi, who are in their second year in the elite league.
Yet Ngezi have shown no respect and will today stride onto the Mandava park with the intent of causing a heartbreak to the success-starved FC Platinum.
In the last two years FC Platinum, under the tutelage of Norman Mapeza, have gone close to clinching the most-sought after piece of silverware, but faltering at the end, but this time there is an air of belief in their camp that they will finally break the duck.
Sitting two points ahead of Ngezi and Dynamos, who will have keen interest in this match as they do their own battle against minnows Bantu Rovers at Barbourfields, FC Platinum know today they can decide their own destiny.
In fact, celebrations could start today if they win and if Dynamos fail to win against Bantu Rovers.
Mandava has seen big matches this season. Fans were entertained when Caps United visited as well as when Dynamos played there against the hosts, yet this is probably the biggest match because of its timing and importance.
Mapeza, normally diplomatic, has transformed himself into a tough-talking bullish mentor declaring his interests.
“It’s a tough and high-pressure game and a huge test for us, but we are determined to win. We are focusing on our game. We have to work on our shortcomings and remain focused,” Mapeza said. “It’s a do-or-die affair, but we want to guard our lead and make sure that we come out of the game as winners. The result of the Tsholotsho game is a determinant in this matrix, but obviously collecting maximum points is the only way out because we cannot afford to lose it at this stage. All we need is to remain focused because at this stage dropping points is risky.
“The team is ready to fight for the title, we want to maintain that points difference between us and other teams. That way, we can be able to write our own history,” Mapeza said.
When they first met at Baobab, FC Platinum lost 2-1, but Mapeza’s side have hit a purple patch, crucially on this home stretch, winning their last four games while at home they have been defeated twice this season.
Mapeza will be seeking revenge after that defeat and his team almost always deliver at home where they have not lost a match this season.
Only Harare City, Chicken Inn, Caps United, Triangle and Highlanders managed draws there.
They have a lot of experience in the side with the likes of Rodwell Chinyengetere, who scored the solitary goal that gave them the win over Tsholotsho, in the frame and hungry for success.
They also have Mkhokeli Dube upfront who can cause damage.
Ngezi Platinum Stars, on the other hand, have shown that they are a brave side and have gone to some of the most difficult places and come out with results.
This time they know a defeat all but ends their interest and they know the pressure is more on the hosts.
They will approach this match with confidence and with a nothing-to-lose attitude.
They have already surpassed expectation for a club less than two years in the top-flight. They have a lot of quality and experience in their side, which they can call on to deliver them a big result this afternoon.
Terrence Dzvukamanja will be one of their best weapons as they seek to slay FC Platinum.
Today: FC Platinum v Ngezi Platinum FC (Mandava, 3pm, SS)
Bantu Rovers FC v Dynamos FC (Barbourfields)
Tomorrow: How Mine FC v Shabanie Mine FC (Luveve, 1pm, SS), Chicken Inn FC v Chapungu FC (Luveve 3pm, SS), Caps United FC v Bulawayo City FC (National Sports), Yadah FC v Highlanders FC (Rufaro), Hwange FC v Harare City FC (Colliery), Black Rhinos FC v ZPC Kariba FC (Morris Depot), Triangle United v Tsholotsho FC (Gibbo)