The Sunday Mail
THE leading pack in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League have every reason to be worried about FC Platinum’s resurgence.
As the season canters towards its business end, the “beast” that FC Platinum have been appears to have reawakened from its slumber.
After enduring a slump two months ago, the champions are now unbeaten in their last four matches.
Norman Mapeza’s men have claimed the scalps of two traditional giants — Highlanders and CAPS United — in their renewed charge and are now closing in on the top-four spots, with 12 rounds left before the 2023 Premiership programme comes to a close.
FC Platinum go into today’s match against Triangle at Gibbo Stadium knowing full well that a win will push them closer to the chasing pack.
The Zvishavane miners might have underachieved in comparison to their performance at this stage last year, but they still have the pedigree to rescue their campaign.
At this time last year, FC Platinum had 11 points more than their current tally of 34.
They are presently in sixth place and are 12 points behind leaders Ngezi Platinum.
However, their performance in the last four rounds of action have left many believing “The Beast from Zvishavane” is not yet out of the race.
“It’s still early to dismiss FC Platinum because once they get into the groove, no one will stop them,” former Bulawayo Chiefs coach Garthly Chipuka reckons.
And they seem to have rediscovered their rhythm.
Their regular front trio of Walter Musona, Panashe Mutimbanyoka and Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya have rediscovered their form, as has their midfield teammates Juan Mutudza, Brian “BB” Banda and Hagiazo Magaya.
But the league champions have underperformed this season.
They have 34 points from 22 matches.
At this time last season, they had amassed 45 points from the same number of matches.
They have kept eight clean sheets so far, yet last term, they managed 16 in 22 matches.
Somehow, those statistics do not mirror their overall performance.
They have dominated in most games but lacked the killer instinct.
FC Platinum’s failure to convert their chances has left Mapeza a worried man.
“Results we have posted are not a true reflection of how we are playing.
“We have been playing some good attacking football but we were not scoring,” Mapeza told the media soon after his team ended Highlanders’ 19-match unbeaten run at Mandava Stadium.
Although they edged CAPS United 2-1, Mapeza still bemoaned his team’s low conversion rate.
“If you can’t score goals, how can you win matches and have that consistency?” he questioned.
“It has been the same story — we are missing chances. We have to score goals.”
One of the two goals against CAPS United was an own goal by Godknows Murwira, before Ngwenya tapped home the winner for only his second goal of the season.
Musona has scored six goals and Mutimbanyoka has a single league goal to his name.
The trio’s combined tally this season is nine goals in 22 matches.
Their revival has, however, brought confidence and belief to the FC Platinum camp.
It began with a 1-1 draw against Cranborne Bullets at Nyamhunga Stadium, before the famous 2-0 win against Bosso at Mandava on August 26.
Before rediscovering their form, the Zvishavane-based side had gone for five games without a win.
They even unusually lost three games in a row at their fortress Mandava.
Those defeats came at the hands of inconsistent Yadah Stars and newboys Simba Bhora and Sheasham.
During that bumpy patch, Mapeza’s men scored just once.
Today, FC Platinum have an opportunity to maintain their comeback against struggling Triangle at Gibbo.
Triangle have a single win in their last nine matches.
The Sugar Sugar Boys are 13th on the log, with just four wins this season.
It has been a chaotic campaign for Triangle, who are under the guidance of former Bulawayo Chiefs coach Thulani Sibanda.
Reports of poor remuneration and in-house squabbles have surfaced at the club, which is slowly sliding towards the relegation zone.
FC Platinum could capitalise on this and keep their quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive league title alive.
The champions have been in this situation before.
At some point last season, they were 10 points behind Dynamos, but recovered and won the title, while DeMbare finished third.