All eyes on Ngezi Platinum

HARARE – Ngezi Platinum Stars’ faltering Castle Lager Premiership title challenge faces further scrutiny when a high-flying Triangle United visit Baobab Stadium on Saturday.

Ngezi Platinum have lost their last four Premiership matches on the trot which has seen their chances of winning the title quickly evaporate.

Tonderai Ndiraya’s side started  the season on fire — going for 14 games without defeat and it looked like they would canter to their maiden domestic championship.

However, defeats to Bulawayo Chiefs, FC Platinum, Black Rhinos and Herentals have seen Madamburo drop to second place on the log with 38 points from 18 matches.

Ngezi Platinum are now six points behind defending champions FC Platinum going into today’s match.

The Sugar Sugar Boys come into this match in third place with 32 points and could finish the weekend just three points behind Ngezi if they win today.

Taurai Mangwiro’s side resumed their second half of the season with an emphatic 5-0 win over a sorry Shabanie Mine last Sunday at Gibbo Stadium.

However, Mangwiro and his players are keeping their feet on the ground as they come up against a jittery Ngezi side that is desperate to start collecting maximum points.

“We celebrated and quickly forgot about the Shabanie result because we immediately started focusing on our game against Ngezi Platinum,” Mangwiro told the Daily News.

“Of course it was a good result against Shabanie but we should not get carried away and think we will have it easy against Ngezi Platinum.”

Although they are currently going through a rough patch, the platinum miners have made Baobab a fortress since their promotion into the top flight in 2016.

Before their 1-2 defeat to FC Platinum last month, Madamburo had gone for 31 home games without a loss at Baobab; a run that stretched back to August 2016.

Most teams that have gone to face Ngezi at their home ground have struggled to cope with the wet Baobab surface.

Madamburo prefer to play their home games on a soft pitch and surprisingly, most visiting teams’ players struggle to keep their footing even though they know well in advance that aluminium studs are the best equipment to use on such surfaces.

“Yes, Ngezi are winless in their last four matches and are under pressure to start picking up maximum points but that is not our concern,” Mangwiro said.

“As a coach, I can only be worried about things in my control and that is preparing my team for this game.

“We should not look too much into what has been happening in the Ngezi camp because it is not our business.”

Speaking after the defeat to Herentals last weekend, Ndiraya admitted that the losing run had turned into a crisis.

“It’s sort of a crisis now if I can put it that way, we need to stop the rot. The good thing is, we had covered much ground but we have not been moving, we have now lost 12 points,” Ndiraya said after the game.

“It’s a massive number of points. As a coach you get worried and as an institution, you also get worried but it’s something which we hope to work on, we will keep our hopes.

“Yeah, it’s now a crisis but a crisis which we can look at — I’m still hopeful we can bounce back from it.”      

Ndiraya also hinted there is an urgent need to find a striker to complement Terrence Dzvukamanja.

“We have not been very sharp particularly in the games that we have lost. We have actually been getting goals from defenders so it’s a cause for concern,” he said.

“It’s an area which we need to look at particularly during this transfer window. We need to refresh our squad going forward.” 
                      

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