Stay focussed, Mapeza tells players

HARARE - FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is taking nothing for granted and has demanded maximum concentration from his charges as they prepare for a must-win Castle Lager Premiership match against Chapungu.

With a two-point lead over record champions Dynamos going into the last round of action, a win will guarantee the platinum miners their maiden title since gaining promotion into the top flight league six years ago.

The Zvishavane-based side is on 69 points two ahead of Dynamos and only need to beat Chapungu to be crowned champions.

And Mapeza, who won his first league title in 2008 with the now-defunct Monomotapa, is in no mood for early celebrations and has demanded that his players keep their focus and close their eyes to the green and white decorations already on show in the Midlands province.

“We need to keep our feet on the ground and there is no need for early celebrations. We are approaching the crossing line and it’s important to maintain the same energy,” Mapeza told the Daily News yesterday.

“We must stay focused for another 90 minutes. We just need to keep on like what we have been doing in our recent matches.

“People are saying Chapungu will be an easy match for us but I don’t think it’s true.

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“There are no easy matches and we just need to keep on working hard.”

It will be actually hard for FC Platinum to lose the title in what has been the most gripping season finale in years.

Mapeza’s side also has a history of being nearly men though.

In their very first spell in the Premiership, Pure Platinum Play lost the title only in the penultimate game of the 2011 season when they went down to Dynamos.

Prior to that, the Zvishavane side had been top of the log for a considerable time but finished the season empty-handed.

In Mapeza’s first season in 2014, FC Platinum finished in fourth place on the log some six points behind champions Dynamos having joined the side midway through the season.

In 2015, Mapeza led the platinum miners to a third place finish again six points behind champions Chicken Inn.

Last season was particularly disappointing for the club as they led the log for a considerable time before eventually finishing second, two points behind eventual champions CAPS United.

On the other hand, second-placed Dynamos are now only hoping for a miracle similar to the ones in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when they beat FC Platinum, Harare City and ZPC Kariba to the title right on the last day of the season. This time, though, matters are not entirely in DeMbare’s hands.

On Saturday, the Glamour Boys face a tough opponent in fourth-placed Chicken Inn at Rufaro Stadium with only a win giving them hope of piping FC Platinum to the title.

Lloyd Mutasa had salvaged what looked like a lost season for DeMbare with a relatively average side made up of mostly rejects assembled at the start of the season.

A defeat or draw for FC Platinum coupled with a Dynamos win would be a crowning achievement for Mutasa.

The Gamecocks were very much involved in this title race and at one stage looked like they would run away with the championship.

However, Rahman Gumbo’s side was let down by a bad patch in September that saw them lose three league games on the trot.

Chicken Inn, who have beaten Dynamos in this fixture in the last two seasons, will be looking forward to end their season on a high with a victory.

Fixtures:

Saturday: Shabanie Mine v Yadah FC (Maglas), Harare City v How Mine (Rufaro), ZPC Kariba v Hwange (Nyamhunga), Tsholotsho v Black Rhinos (Dulivhadzimu), Bulawayo City v Bantu Rovers (Luveve), Ngezi Platinum v Triangle United (Baobab), Highlanders v CAPS United (Barbourfields), Dynamos v Chicken Inn (NSS), Chapungu v FC Platinum (Ascot).

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