ZPC in no show for season opener

HARARE - The opening day of the 2018 Castle Lager Premiership was marred by confusion yesterday after ZPC Kariba refused to travel to Harare for their match against reigning champions FC Platinum which was scheduled for the National Sports Stadium.

The Zimbabwe Power Company-owned side, which was supposed to be the home team, after their fortress Nyamhunga Stadium was deemed unfit to host premiership matches, did not travel citing that they will not play a home game away from home.

Nyamhunga Stadium was only certified by the First Instance Body (FIB) to host matches late yesterday afternoon following renovations to meet at least the minimum standards of Fifa Club Licensing as required by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).

Zifa communications officer Xolisani Gwesela confirmed through a statement just moments after scheduled kick-off that the FBI have homologated Nyamhunga Stadium but it was too late as FC Platinum had already arrived in Harare for the tie.  

“The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to inform the football fraternity that following a re-inspection of Nyamhunga Stadium on the March 17, 2018, the stadium has been homologated to host matches of the Premier Soccer League,” read the statement.

And yesterday, while FC Platinum were at the National Sports Stadium, ZPC Kariba were said to be at Nyamhunga Stadium. FC Platinum are likely to be awarded the three points after officials at the National Sports Stadium awarded the match on walkover.

At Rufaro Stadium, Yadah Stars came from behind to force a 2-2 draw against Bulawayo Chiefs.

Bulawayo Chiefs appeared on course to pick up a maiden win after two quick goals by Moses Majika (32 minutes) and Perfect Chikwende (36 minutes).

However, Yadah ensured they remained in the game after Ralph Matema, who arrived after being released by Highlanders pulled one back three minutes before the break.
Yadah completed their comeback six minutes from time after defender Byron Madzokere converted from the spot kick following an infringement on Johannes Sibanda inside the box by a Chiefs defender.

Yadah coach Thomas Ruzive blamed the result on mix-up with the PSL after he was forced to change his game plan as licences of some of his players could not be availed.
“I think it was a point gained. We are very much satisfied with the result because it could have been worse,” Ruzive said after the match.

“There were quite a number of players who were supposed to have started but everything changed just before kick-off. I don’t know what happened with the PSL. But such is life we will need to get back stronger in our next game.

“We want to work hard this season and improve from our last year’s performance.”

Bulawayo Chiefs coach Garthly Chipuka praised his charges for standing their ground in their debut match in the Premiership.

“We played very well. I am sure we have showed that we can compete,” he said.

“The boys did well and what we need to do now is to keep on working hard. Our objective is to enjoy football and God willing to avoid relegation. But after today’s show I think it was very encouraging and we are looking forward to our next matches.”

At Mandava Stadium, Nichrut got their campaign off the ground with 1-0 victory over PSL returnees Mutare City.

Spencer Masunda scored the solitary strike on 21 minutes to hand the Shurugwi-based side a dream start to life in the top flight.

At Baobab Stadium, Ngezi Platinum beat newly-promoted side Herentals 2-0.

It took Ngezi Platinum until the 59th minute to break a resolute Herentals through Walter Mukanga before Keith Murera sealed maximum points with the second goal two minutes from full time.

Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya, was the first to admit Herentals gave them a good run for their money. 

“It was a good result but I was not impressed with the performance. Maybe it was so because you could tell my players have not yet reached the required fitness levels,” Ndiraya said after the match.

At Luveve Stadium, Bulawayo City opened their campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over Chapungu courtesy of a brace by striker Ismael Wadi.


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