Big guns fire warning shots

THE 2019 Castle Lager Premiership season kicked off to a scintillating start with all the big boys and usual suspects picking up positive results over the weekend.

All the focus was on defending champions FC Platinum, who got the ball rolling against Harare City last Friday at Rufaro stadium.

After having won the title for the past two seasons, most fans were wondering if the Zvishavane-based side would be motivated for another title defence considering everything they have achieved in recent years.

However, Pure Platinum Play were in a bullish mood as they played Harare City off the park for long periods especially in the first half.

The sunshine Boys are not just making up the numbers in the top flight with some considering them as title favourites but they were given a reality check by FC Platinum.

Norman Mapeza’s side ran out 2-0 winners with goals from Ali Sadiki and defender Elvis Moyo to send a clear warning to all title hopefuls that Pure Platinum Play will not be dethroned easily.

“I think it was a massive win. We always struggle when we come to Harare to face City. I think the last time we came and won was in 2014. Well done to the boys for the win,” said Mapeza.

The following day, Dynamos were back at the same venue hoping to start the 2019 campaign with a cheer when they faced newly-promoted Mushowani Stars.

DeMbare spent the better part of 2018 fighting against relegation before surviving with only three games to go.
In pre-season, Glamour Boys coach Lloyd “MaBlanyo” Chigowe chopped and changed his entire squad and was only left with five players from 2018 while the rest were unheralded stars plucked from obscurity.

Things did not go according to script especially in the first period as Mushowani took the game to DeMbare and were unlucky not to score.

The game turned on its head in the final 15 minutes with DeMbare’s new signing Ngandu Mangala scoring a memorable brace.

Chigowe believes winning the first match of the season will come in handy as DeMbare want to get back to the top echelons of local football.

“I’m made to understand that Dynamos always struggle to win the first game of the season so I think we have changed that but what is important is to try and maintain the momentum going forward,” he said.

“The first victory is water under the bridge; three points collected and next week is another shift that needs to be put in by the boys and we need to put our shoulders to the wheel.”
However, the DeMbare coach is fully aware that his team needs to do more in order to be anywhere near the defending champions.  
“FC Platinum are the monster in the league, you could see by the way they played yesterday (Friday),” Chigowe said.

“They put Harare City under the cosh and only released them when they had got the result so we must be very afraid of FC Platinum.”
The country’s oldest club Highlanders were in the capital on Saturday as well as they took on Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium.

With all the off-field problems that rocked Bosso during pre-season, Madinda Ndlovu’s side put in a good second half performance to earn a 1-1 draw.
Ndlovu felt his players that had lost valuable time in pre-season due to industrial action put in a great shift.
“We have had so many challenges in the past and I think we have not really worked out our tactics as a team but coming up and fighting having been a goal down and salvaging a point, I would give credit to the boys.

“The major focus was to try and not lose this game especially to try and protect the players from our beloved fans.
“You know how it is when players behave like that and lose a game; they will be put under severe pressure by the supporters and the major thing was to protect them from that and make sure we pick up in the next games.”

On the same day, Chicken Inn, who have made their intentions of winning this year’s title clear, opened their season with a 3-1 win over ZPC Kariba at Luveve Stadium.
New signing Clive Augusto scored a brace while midfielder Simon Munawa chipped in with the other strike to leave coach Joey Antipas satisfied.

“It was important to start the season on a high; there is still a lot of work to be done as we try to find the right combinations,” Antipas said.

“We did very well against a resilient ZPC Kariba side, who beat us here last year. Unfortunately, a lapse in concentration made us concede that goal.”   
With all the big teams picking up positive results, the spotlight was now on CAPS United as they took on new comers Manica Diamonds at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.

United were simply irresistible especially in the opening half where they left the visitors bamboozled by their quick wing play from new signings Phenias Bhamusi and Gabriel Nyoni.

United were able to score two in that opening period through John Zhuwawu and Joel Ngodzo before easing off on the gas in the second period.

Makepekepe coach Lloyd Chitembwe was pleased with his team’s overall performance.

“I’m very happy with the way the boys applied themselves, it was very good. I thought it was a game of two halves,” he said.

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