Mukandi's heroics foil Platinum

HARARE - Monomotapa goalkeeper Artwell Mukandi stole the limelight from teammate Ronald Chitiyo to deny the midfielder his third man-of-the-match gong in the Mbada Diamonds Cup this season.

The young Monoz shot stopper made crucial saves in the Harare club’s 1-0 semifinal win over FC Platinum at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Saturday.

The former Zimbabwe champions will now meet last year’s Mbada winners Dynamos in the final.

On Saturday, Monoz played their trademark attacking brand of football in defiance of the bumpy playing surface at Sakubva.

Midfielder Chitiyo was visible from the first whistle, creating some anxious moments inside the Platinum final third but most of his inviting crosses found no takers.

He continued with his form in the second half before stand-in captain Kuda Musharu began to control the game upfront, making himself a serious contender for the man-of-the-match award while Chitiyo was on course for his third award.

Chitiyo bagged his first man-of-the-match recognition in the round of 16 where Monomotapa beat Buffaloes 3-0 in Beitbridge before taking another one in the 3-2 quarterfinal win over Highlanders at the Colliery.
Musharu scored the solitary strike in the second minute after the break when he lobbed past a withdrawn Platinum keeper Tafadzwa Dube.

Platinum coach Tendai Chikuni made a double substitution in the 59th minute, bringing in Charles Sibanda and Allen Gahadzikwa for William Manondo and Joel Ngodzo, a move that added a bit of pace into his side, but found Mukandi unyielding between the posts.

Platinum striker Donald Ngoma made numerous raids into the Monomotapa goal area, but again Mukandi remained unyielding and so did rock solid defender Jimmy Tigere.

“We played as team, we were determined to win the match after we beat them twice in the season,” Mukandi told the Daily News yesterday.

“It was a big game and winning an accolade at such a stage is special. It can only motivate me to keep on working hard on my game; hopefully we will qualify for the continental games.”

Mukandi also paid tribute to teammate Chitiyo, who has been having the season of his life.
 
“Rooney (Chitiyo) has been on top of his game, maybe it wasn’t his day and all the luck was on me on Saturday,” he added.

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