FC Platinum were last week crowned the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions. This was not surprising given their shrewd technical bench led by Norman Mapeza, the orderliness of the club from Zvishavane and the deteriorating standards at community clubs.
The platinum miners won the league for the second time in a row with two games to spare, underlining their dominance of a relatively competitive marathon term which was dominated by company owned clubs, hogging the limelight from traditional giants Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders who are now a pale shadow of their past.
CAPS United recently went on a winless streak, while Bosso were on and off this season with Dynamos at one point facing relegation under the tutelage of Llyod Mutasa. The one time African Champions League finalists only walked out of the woods after the appointment of Lloyd Chigowe and Murape Murape as his assistant.
Dembare found themselves in an unusual position on the log and there were genuine fears that the most popular club in the country might have ended up in the unfashionable Division One league.
Things have changed.
An avid football follower Leonard Koni, thinks the reason why Mapeza and FC Platinum have been dominating the local scene is down to the fact that the Zvishavane side is well oiled financially.
“Football in Zimbabwe is going down. The competition isn’t enough. The success of Norman Mapeza and his team Platinum FC can be traced back to players’ welfare and sound management. Most of the teams which are participating in the Premier League are struggling to meet their players’ demands and hence poor performance.
“Now that Mapeza has defended the title, competing in the African Champions league is always proving a hard nut to crack. The Champions League matches are just very tough for our local teams and the only team which played in the finals was Dynamos and no any other team has reached the CAF champions final. Why are our teams failing to reach the money spinning stages? We need to up our game,” argued Koni.
Dynamos reached the African Champions league final in 1998 against ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast. After a 0-0 at home, the then Sunday Chidzambga coached side lost 4-2 in the controversial second leg match in Abidjan where captain Memory Mucherahowa was head-butted before the match. The Zimbabwean champions played the match under protest.
FC Platinum participated in the last edition of the continental completion where they lost in the preliminary round against Clube Desportivo de Agosto.
Another football fan Allan Mutasa said: “I think it’s all down to resources and a bit of professionalism .FC Platinum is the greener pasture for any player in Zimbabwe, so naturally they will attract the best talent on offer. I can’t say Mapeza is a very good coach because he has had this team and all resources but he only delivered the last two years. Others were delivering with little resources.” Whatever arguments that may be forwarded, the fact still remains Mapeza is dominating and is the man of the moment and favourite to be named the coach of the year, while his forward Rodwell Chinyengetere might repeat the same feat of being voted the Soccer Star of the Year.
Mapeza chose to be modest when asked to comment about his latest exploits. “I give thanks to the players, management and above all God for what we have achieved so far,” said Mapeza in a terse statement.
Although they did not win any silverware, Ngezi Platinum had a huge say in this race, but faltered when it mattered most and had to unceremoniously fire their coach Tonderai Ndiraya who had scaled sizzy heights with the Ngezi-based outfit who were relatively unknown when they came to dance with the big boys five years ago.