NGEZI PLATINUM BACK ON TOP | Relegated Castle Lager Premier Soccer League side Bantu Rovers conceded a soft goal as Ngezi Platinum Stars clung onto the top of the league table, courtesy of a Donald Teguru 43rd minute goal.
Rovers put up a brave display as they frustrated the title favourites, who were desperate for maximum points at Luveve following Chicken Inn and FC Platinum’s respective wins on Friday and Saturday.
With the match seemingly going for half-time deadlocked, Teguru capitalised on a defensive mix-up by Rovers.
Rovers’ keeper Wellington Muuya left his box to try and clear the ball that had bypassed his defenders, but his weak header fell to Teguru, who poked the ball into the net.
It was a painful goal to concede for Rovers who had done everything to match the visitors.
Muuya had made a brilliant 14th minute save to deny Teguru a goal in a one-on-one situation. The visitors looked threatening on the overlap, with left-back Qadr Amini combining well with Teguru and Tichaona Mabvura.
When they got their goal, Ngezi kept probing Rovers, who maintained their shape and made it difficult for the visitors to play the ball.
The hard-fought victory fascinated Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who had predicted a difficult encounter in his pre-match interview.
“This was a difficult game for us and we knew that it was going to be difficult to psyche the players up following a good game against Dynamos. Credit goes to Methembe Ndlovu and Agent Sawu as their youngsters gave us a tough time. Despite being relegated, they gave a good fight.
“However, what is important is that we managed to get three points and we’re pushing on. The championship is still in our hands and all we have to do is win our next matches,” said Ndiraya.
Ngezi top the league table, tied on 63 points with FC Platinum, who have an inferior goal difference.
The table toppers face fourth-placed Chicken Inn, who trail them by four points, in their next match followed by a clash against FC Platinum.
“The next two games are difficult and at this stage what is critical is mental strength. We’re playing former champions (Chicken Inn) and a good FC Platinum side, which requires us to raise our game. What I know is that my players are good whenever we face the big teams,” Ndiraya said.
With FC Platinum, Chicken Inn and Dynamos all winning their respective games, Ngezi are certainly feeling the heat at the top.
Meanwhile, Ndlovu praised his Rovers charges.
“We were our own worst enemies because we made a mistake at the back and it cost us the game. However, I think in terms of our ball speed, we moved it well and we lost to a better team. I think we lost but we really competed,” said Ndlovu.
Bantu Rovers: W. Muuya, K. D. (M. Bhebhe, 88th minute), N. Garayi, D. Ndlovu, L. Ncube, T. Khumbuyani, L. Ndlela, S. Nyahwa, N. Papius, M. Dube, B. Ncube (P. Zivengwa, 79th minute).
Ngezi Platinum: T. Mawaya, D. Tavari, T. Mchisa, Q. Amini, L. Chakoroma, X. Moyo (K. Murera, 75th minute), G. Murwira, W. Mukanga, T. Mabvura (J. Nguluve, 52nd minute), C. Augusto (W. Pakamisa, 86th minute), Donald Teguru.