AFTER stirring controversy at the semi-final stage of the Chibuku Super Cup by allowing Highlanders and FC Platinum to play at their respective home grounds as away teams, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) appears to be making amends by handing debutants Ngezi Platinum the competition’s final match at their home ground. BY SPORTS REPORTER – NEWSDAY
The PSL yesterday announced that the Chibuku Super Cup final would be played at Baobab Stadium next week.
Ngezi Platinum dumped Highlanders out of the competition in front of the Bulawayo giants’ fans at Barbourfields on Sunday to book a place in the final of the country’s biggest knockout tournament.
Harare City, who were forced to play their home match against FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium, could not do the same, and were ruthlessly hammered 3-0.
The PSL’s venue choices in the semi-finals suggested they wanted to set up a Highlanders versus FC Platinum final, two teams that have a considerable following, but those plans were ruined by the league debutants from Mhondoro-Ngezi.
Ngezi Platinum coach, Tonderai Ndiraya was at the forefront in complaining about the PSL’s decision to fixture his team’s supposed home match against Bosso in Bulawayo.
Even after winning the match, Ndiraya couldn’t resist taking a dig at the PSL and in his post-match comments, saying: “I am happy to have won at home.”
It appears those comments had the desired effect, as his side will enjoy the home advantage when the two platinum mine sides clash in the most important match of the competition.
The winner of the contest will pocket $75 000, and a ticket to represent the country in the Caf Confederations Cup next season.
Victory for the home side would be a huge achievement and a perfect conclusion to the debutants’ season, in which they started horribly and were, at one point, in danger of relegation before they hired Ndiraya, who managed to steady the ship.
The team is currently on ninth position in the league, with a realistic chance of finishing in the top eight in their maiden season in the top-flight.
Three of Ngezi Platinum players are also in the running for the Chibuku Super Cup top goalscorer award, which has some rich pickings.
The team’s instrumental captain, Liberty Chakoroma, who scored the only goal to beat Highlanders, and teammates, Terrance Dzvukamanja and skilful midfielder Donald Teguru are among the leading goalscorers, with two goals each.
Other candidates for the top goalscorer award, who have scored two goals each, are Harare City’s William Manondo and FC Platinum’s Charles Sibanda.
However, the duo will not be able to add onto their tally, as City are already out of the competition, while Sibanda is out of the final after being involved in a road accident after their semi-final victory.
FC Platinum won this competition two years ago and they know the benefits that come with success.
The Zvishavane side were in prime position to win the league a few weeks ago, but they have since plummeted to third position on the log standings behind Caps United and Highlanders.
While they still have prospects of winning the league title, the Norman Mapeza-coached side’s realistic chance of winning some silverware this season lies in the Chibuku Super Cup.