The Sunday Mail
Simba Bhora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 1
FC Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 2
NEWBOYS Simba Bhora’s inexperience in the top-flight was exposed when they easily let slip their lead in their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter against FC Platinum at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The Shamva outfit seemed destined for a shock upset of the champions when they shot into the lead.
But a five-minute spell of madness cost them a chance to come out with at least a point, as FC Platinum rallied from behind to claim victory.
Much-travelled midfielder Ronald Chitiyo had thrust Simba Bhora into a 52nd minute lead, only for the debutants to fall to a Juan Mutudza brace in the last 10 minutes.
Yesterday’s victory ensured that FC Platinum extended their record Match-Day One wins to nine out of 11 since gaining promotion into the top-flight in 2011.
Chitiyo had put the hosts in front with a beauty that was struck from just outside the champions’ penalty box.
Early on, in the opening half, Simba Bhora’s resolute defending had kept FC Platinum forwards at bay.
They were even unlucky not to have gone to the break leading.
Simba Bhora had an early chance of breaking the deadlock in the opening stages, when ex-AmaZulu and Baroka winger Talent Chawapiwa broke loose on the left flank to find an unmarked Ishmael Nyanhi inside the FC Platinum box.
Nyanhi, however, hurried his effort and blasted over.
The debutants had their fair share of possession in the opening stages of the match before FC Platinum finally gained ground after almost a quarter of an hour.
FC Platinum carved their first clear-cut chance in the 15th minute, when Jarrison Selemani came to the end of a Mutudza cross but failed to control the ball inside the box, allowing Simbarashe Chinani to gather the effort.
Simba Bhora piled on the pressure early into the second half, relying mostly on counter-raids.
The pressing paid off seven minutes after the break, when former Harare City, Dynamos and CAPS United man Chitiyo capitalised on a miscue by Magalane, chipping over one of FC Platinum defenders just outside the penalty box before unleashing a powerful volley into the bottom right corner.
The goal sent Simba Bhora’s colourful band of fans into a frenzy.
On the other end, the goal seemed to have awakened FC Platinum, as they abandoned their patient passing game and started pressing forward in numbers.
That forced Simba Bhora on the back foot.
Reigning Coach of the Year Norman Mapeza then introduced Soccer Star of the Year Walter Musona and Perfect Chikwende on the hour.
The duo’s experience paid dividends as it gave the visitors more attacking options, forcing the inexperienced Simba Bhora defenders into committing unforced areas in their own half.
FC Platinum capitalised on their experience, as they were rewarded in the 82nd minute when Mutudza headed in a Gift Mbweti cross from the right to level terms.
The combination of Mbweti and Mutudza was at it again, as they combined to score in similar fashion three minutes from time.
Simba Bhora coach Tonderai Ndiraya was not amused with the manner they capitulated.
“I thought we had done enough to collect at least a point, but after we scored that goal, we became overexcited and lost concentration, and, in the end, conceded two silly goals,” he said.
“The introduction of Walter and Perfect brought in a lot of experience and became difficult for our boys,”said Ndiraya.
Mapeza described their victory as “a massive win’’.
“I was not going to be disappointed by a draw; it’s the first game of the season and we had a difficult game last week.
“It is early days but we have to keep working hard. This is a massive win. I spoke with the players in the morning and we know we are going to have some difficult games in the early stages and it is very important that we get the wins,” said Mapeza.