Ngezi up & running

HARARE - Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya sees the next five matches as crucial to their Castle Lager Premiership title challenge after reducing the gap on log leaders FC Platinum to just two points.

After a bright start to this year’s campaign in which they went for 14 matches unbeaten, the platinum miners’ title aspirations had suffered a huge setback following a four-game losing streak which saw them trail FC Platinum by six points at some time.

Madamburo’s first defeat of the season came when they went down 1-0 to Bulawayo Chiefs.

In their following match, Ngezi surrendered a 1-0 lead before conceding two goals in the last four minutes to lose to FC Platinum.

With their spirits down, Ndiraya’s charges went onto to lose again against Black Rhinos (2-1) and Herentals (1-0) to severely dent their title aspirations.

However, Ngezi Platinum have wormed their way back into contention following back-to-back wins over Triangle (3-1) and Dynamos (0-1). At the same time, FC Platinum began to falter as they were held to a 1-1 away draw by Yadah FC before last weekend’s goalless draw against CAPS United.

After 20 matches, Pure Platinum Play still sit top of the log with 46 points but crucially for Ndiraya and his charges, they are now within striking distance on 44 points.

On Sunday, Ngezi Platinum dug deep to get all three points against fading Harare giants Dynamos.

DeMbare enjoyed all the possession while Ngezi had to be patient until they got their opportunity from the set piece.

Striker Kelvin Bulaji, who is excelling in his new role as a full back, headed home at the near post a corner kick taken by Michael Charamba on the stroke of full time.

Now the belief is back in the Ngezi dressing that they can give FC Platinum a run for their money but for now Ndiraya wants his side to remain solid and consistent in their coming matches.

In their next five matches, Ngezi Platinum will face Nichrut (h), Chicken Inn (a), Shabanie Mine (h), Mutare City (a) and Highlanders (a) a period Ndiraya feels might determine their fate in the title race.

“This is football, 14 matches to go and anything can happen. It is our hope and wish that we continue on the same path. We have two wins on the spin; we hope to win more. It’s not going to be easy for us especially in the next five weeks; we are playing strong teams,” Ndiraya said.

“We are hoping that we will keep the grip; keep working hard and grinding the results. It’s a tight race.”

Ndiraya feels they have learnt their lessons after that bad patch and is banking on the counselling his players received from the sports psychologists following that dreadful period.

“I think our boys were affected psychologically. Mentally when we lost our first match they were not prepared for it.

“But we spoke to the players and we had to bring in psychologists to talk to the boys and I think it really helped.

“We have been fortunate to get some sports psychologists to come and talk to our boys and I believe it assisted in getting our boys back into the mental shape we want them to be. I’m quite happy they responded well.”

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