FC Platinum took control of the Castle Lager Premiership marathon and now have their fate firmly in their hands as they try to end half-a-century of failure for clubs from outside Harare and Bulawayo when it comes to transforming into champions of Zimbabwe football. Norman Mapeza and his men now need to win all their remaining games and nothing can stop them from becoming the first team, since St Paul's Musami in 1966, from outside the country's two major cities, to be crowned champions of domestic football. Rodwell Chinyengetere and Mkokheli Dube scored twice in the second half after a forgettable first half in which Shabanie appeared to be the team desperate for the points to be crowned champions.
The visitors controlled the midfield and with a bit of luck they could have taken a deserved lead into the breather. Mapeza tinkered the engine room bringing in steely Gerald Takwara for former Dynamos midfielder Brett Amidu and veteran Ali Sadiki for Hillary Bakacheza. Takwara brought in the control while Sadiki brought in the spark upfront and just 10 minutes after the break, they not only took the lead, but began to play like champions-in-waiting.
Mapeza said he was not worried about results elsewhere where his main rivals -- Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum -- dropped points. "I am not worried about that, I know the pressure that comes with being on top of the log. Our objective now is to keep on fighting and see the position we will be come the end of the season," he said.
"Being in charge for 100 games does not matter, if it was not about you (media) I could not have known that. The most important thing is the objective to win the league at the end of the season not being on top before the end. It was a balanced game in the first half and at half-time I told the guys we can go on and win it. At the position we are in there is no need to defend. We brought in Gerald and Ali, those guys who were in were not giving us the dimension we wanted and I am happy it worked."
Both sides came into the duel knowing that a defeat for either side could be disastrous with the platinum miners chasing a maiden league title and Shabanie trying to avoid relegation. And 20 minutes into the contest, Shabanie Mine forward Tinashe Mupumha opened the opponents' defence by threading the pass into the path of his captain Farai Mupasiri who failed to connect with the 'keeper exposed.
Moments later Trevor Ajana led the Shabanie attack, but his effort was blocked by the FC Platinum defence. Charles Sibanda was also denied from a dead ball. Two minutes after the hour mark the platinum miners struck when Chinyengetere beat his marker Nyasha Mpofu to give the title chasers the lead. Veteran forward Dube, who scored in Bulawayo on Sunday in the win over Highlanders, doubled the lead 13 minutes before full-time when he fired home from outside the box.
Shabanie Mine's hopes for a comeback were dealt a heavy blow when their midfield enforcer Joe Nyabinde limped off injured in the 79th minute. Coach Takesure Chiragwi refused to be drowned in the sorrows of defeat. "The difference in this game was only the scoreline, we played very well, but a mistake allowed them to score. We have youngsters who did very well against these experienced guys and it gives me confidence. "That we lost to FC Platinum does not mean we will be relegated, we are still in and fighting," said Chiragwi.
FC Platinum: W Magalane, I Nekati, G Bello, K Moyo, E Moyo, W Mhango, R Chinyengetere (R Muduviwa 70th min), B Amidu (G Takwara 53rd min), H Bakacheza (A Sadiki 53rd min), C Sibanda, M Dube
Shabanie Mine: P Moyo, J Nyabinde (B Mtigo 79th min), B Mukundu, W Mapfumo, N Mpofu, T Chigede (D Chivandire 71st min), F Mupasiri, T Ajana (T Mavhunga 80th min), T Mupumha, T Chimoyo, W Taderera
FC Platinum. . (0) 2
Shabanie Mine . 0