The Castle Lager Premiership continues tomorrow with a potentially explosive clash of platinum miners at Baobab Stadium in Mhondoro, as log leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars host FC Platinum.
Both Mhondoro-based Ngezi platinum and their Zvishavane adversaries, FC Platinum, have equal points,38, but Ngezi sits at the very pinnacle of the log table courtesy of a one-goal advantage.
Ngezi will look to get back to winning ways again at home and stretch the gap with their nearest rivals, after suffering their first defeat in 15 matches with a loss to Bulawayo Chiefs.
FC Platinum are the 2017 defending champions and are keen on defending the title whilst Ngezi who are three years old in the top flight in pursuit of their maiden title.
Both platinum mining company-backed sides will be fighting for a place at the apex of the log in an anticipated high voltage contest.
The teams share a lot in common, ambition, organization, good remuneration and above all glamour, which points to a very exciting and tense Platinum derby.
It is for that reason that it cannot be disputed that financial backing is one of the things that are changing and shaping the modern game.
Staggering figures involved in player transfers for both sides in the domestic league has upset the dominance of traditional power houses like CAPS United, Dynamos and Highlanders .
Ngezi’s success is a reflection of a sound financial support by its parent sponsor Zimplats Holdings, Zimbabwe’s single largest platinum group metals (PGMs) exporter.
FC Platinum, owned by FC Platinum Holdings whose umbilical code is tied to Mimosa, Zimbabwe’s second biggest platinum miner, is also one of the well sponsored and stable clubs in the PSL.
To an extent, besides tactical battle where training, sheer work rate, commitment and managerial expertise win games, nowadays money wins matches and titles due to quality of players teams can lure.
Tomorrow’s clash is not just about points, but the bragging rights too. FC Platinum head into this fixture, riding on a good momentum in which they beat Shabanie Mine 4-0 in the Zvishavane derby last week.
At the start of the season, one could argue that FC Platinum had the best team in the league on paper, and now that they’ve utilised the transfer market to good effect, signing quality players like Jameson Mukombwe on loan, Kevin Madzongwe, Never Tigere, Edwin Madhanhanga on loan, Farai Mupasiri and Albert Eonde.
One is tempted to get the feeling that FC Platinum will claim yet another league title this year.
Despite being the 2017 defending champions, FC Platinum, winners of the Chibuku Super Cup in 2014 and the 2017 Castle Challenge Cup, have shown their ambition to defend the title.
FC Platinum will need their above mentioned signings to come to the party, while the likes of Rodwell Chinyengetere, Winston Mhango, Mkhokheli Dubewill also provide experience in their attacking.
In terms of injuries, red cards or apparent sudden dip of form, these are mostly in the Ngezi Platinum Stars camp, but their FC Platinum counterparts have a clean bill of health.
As if their problems are not enough, Ngezi Platinum will be missing two key players in defender Kevin Moyo and Mukombwe, who away are on national duty at the COSAFA tournament.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza told our sister paper The Herald that the match they have no special plan for the encounter.
“We are not going to change the way we train, we are not going to change the way we approach games and we are not going to change the way we play. We will apply the same approach , you see, it is just another game of football and we go there with a positive mind and see what happens at the end of the day,’’ says Mapeza.
After their first loss of the season to an unlikely opponent last week, Ngezi Platinum Stars are hoping to bounce back.
Ngezi, also known as Madamburo had monopolised the tag of title favourites since the beginning of the season, but the defeat at the hands of Bulawayo Chiefs left them level on points with second placed FC Platinum.
After losing the three points in the defeat to Bulawayo Chiefs, Ngezi’s horrible afternoon was made more painful by two second-half red cards to players Clive Augusto and Xolisani Moyo.
In this weeks clash, they will miss the services of their in-form striker Terence Dzvukamanja who is away on national duty in South Africa at the COSAFA Cup.
Dzvukamanja is leading the Castle Lager Premier League top goal scorers chats with eight goals.
First choice goalkeeper, Donovan Bernard is also suspended for the clash after picking his third yellow card against Bulawayo Chiefs at Luveve.
Out of the 15 matches Ngezi Platinum has played, Bernard has kept 10 clean sheets, provided an assist, saved a penalty and conceded only four goals.
Ngezi Platinum Stars media officer Culvin Mavunga confirmed that four players will miss the platinum derby whilst Influential midfielder Walter Mukanga will require to pass a late fitness test.
‘’Three player are suspended and our chief striker is in South Africa. Mukanga is also struggling with groin injury. It’s 50/50 chance for him we await the medical team to confirm. These are key players in the team who have been regular starters this season,’’ Mavhunga said.
Bankrolled by the Ngezi Platinum Mine, Ngezi Stars is one of the first clubs to invest heavily in a title-winning squad that changed the landscape of the Premier League this season. They signed nine new players.
An exciting midfielder in his playing days, Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya has often relied on his forwards to win him games this season and thrives on effective attacking football.
Both clubs represent people and their aspirations in their respective locations, Zvishavane and Mhondoro. They surely mean something to the fans which cannot be described in words.
For such mining communities, football began as the game of the working class and has since evolved into a sport that truly unites people, employees, management and their children.
They are institutions which represent people and their aspirations. They mean something to the fans which cannot be described in words.
We await the PLATINUM DERBY!