FC Platinum on the cusp

HARARE - FC Platinum could make history this coming Sunday by becoming the first team outside of Harare or Bulawayo to win the Zimbabwe league title since independence.

Pure Platinum Play took a significant step to their maiden Castle Lager Premiership title following a 2-1 win over fellow title aspirants Ngezi Platinum Stars at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.

Goals from Kevin Moyo and Rodwell Chinyengetere cancelled out Michael Charamba’s opener for the visitors to leave FC Platinum on 69 points from 33 matches.

Second-placed Dynamos beat relegated Bantu Rovers 3-2 at Barbourfields Stadium to move to 67 points.

Ngezi Platinum effectively surrendered their push for the title following Saturday’s defeat in Zvishavane which left them in third place with 64 points.

Only Dynamos are still in with an outside chance of catching Mapeza’s side on the final day of the season.

The permutations are, however, very simple for FC Platinum, they only need to beat Chapungu on Sunday at Ascot Stadium in their final league game this Sunday.

This will take the platinum miners’ points tally to 72 and even if Dynamos beat Chicken Inn on the same day, the Glamour Boys can only get to 70 points.

If that would happen, then it would be history in the making as FC Platinum would have achieved a feat many other teams from outside the two main cities have failed before since independence.

Since 1980, only teams from the capital and Bulawayo have been crowned Zimbabwe champions.

During that period, Dynamos have won the title on 16 occasions followed by Highlanders on seven while CAPS United have won it four times.

The other teams to have won the title since 1980 are Black Rhinos (twice), Black Aces, Zimbabwe Saints, Amazulu, Motor Action, Monomotapa, Gunners and Chicken Inn.

The only team in the history of local football to have stopped the hegemony of Harare and Bulawayo is St Paul’s Musami Mission.

The Murehwa-based institution’s football side defied odds way back in 1966 when they won the then Rhodesia National Football title under Father Anthony Edward Davies.

FC Platinum are on the cusp of breaking that jinx as they face a Chapungu side they have normally enjoyed a good record against since their promotion into the top flight in 2011.

Chapungu returned to the top flight in the 2014 season and both matches between the two sides ended in goalless draws that year.

In 2015, the two sides drew their first meeting 0-0 at Ascot before FC Platinum won the reverse fixture 2-0 at Mandava.

Last season, Mapeza’s side completed a double over the Air Force of Zimbabwe side winning the first meeting 1-0 at Mandava and the second clash 2-0 at Ascot.

Pure Platinum Play have continued with their dominance over Waru Waru by winning their first meeting 1-0 at Mandava in July.

Gift Mbweti was on target for the home side on that afternoon.

The only time Chapungu have managed to win a match against the platinum miners was two months ago in the Chibuku Super Cup first round.

The tie finished tied 0-0 after regulation time before Chapungu went on to win on penalties.

However, there might be a glimmer of hope for Dynamos as the league title race heads to the wire.

If the Glamour Boys beat the Gamecocks and FC Platinum fail to beat Chapungu, then they will be crowned champions either by a single point or on goal difference.

DeMbare have already won the league title on goal difference before in the 1983, 1995, 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.

On the last three occasions, Dynamos had already been ruled out but the Harare giants somehow found a way to win the title ahead of a shattered Harare City and Highlanders two seasons in a row.

Speaking shortly after the win over Ngezi Platinum on Saturday, Mapeza called for caution from his players as they are now just 90 minutes from glory.

“We cannot cerebrate now because we still have the Chapungu game; we can only talk after that game,” Mapeza said.

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