Sibanda fires Platinum back to the top in Zimbabwe

Simba Mushati

FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza


Charles Sibanda notched a brace as FC Platinum reclaimed top spot in emphatic style on match-day 31 in the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League, downing ZPC Kariba 3-0 to go three points clear of rivals Ngezi.

Platinum, determined to seize the initiative in a pulsating four-way title race, have now won three of their last four matches to raise hopes that they are finally ready to avoid the late-season collapse which has cost them dearly in the past.

Veteran forward Sibanda struck either side of Mkhokheli Dube's 36th-minute effort as the Zvishavane-based miners coasted to a 3-0 lead by the break before taking their foot off the pedal in the second-half to see out the encounter.

It was the biggest win of the campaign for goal-shy Platinum, and coach Norman Mapeza must have derived a great measure of satisfaction at seeing his hitherto misfiring strike-force finally delivering when it matters most.

Mapeza can bag the second championship of his coaching career -- and Platinum's first -- by winning the remaining three matches, including a top-of-the-table clash against Ngezi in the penultimate round. Platinum's two other remaining matches are against Tsholotsho and Chapungu.

Sunday's victory will doubtless put pressure on Ngezi and Dynamos, who fulfil their match-day 31 assignments on Sunday against Bantu and Chapungu respectively.

Dynamos have a much more challenging task against a Chapungu side who have won three of their last four matches, and who will trot into the National Sports Stadium with the added advantage of playing without any pressure with survival already guaranteed.

Meanwhile, wingback Passmore Bernard netted his fifth goal of the season moments before the break to hand Chicken Inn a vital 1-0 win over Tsholotsho in a match played on Friday afternoon. The result saw the Game Corks climb into third at the expense of faltering giants Dynamos, who slipped one place down into fourth-place.

In another league match played Friday, outgoing champions CAPS United continued their fine run with a 1-0 success at How Mine as the league's leading scorer, Dominic Chungwa, scored his 15th of the season.

CAPS have now successfully shaken off a disastrous mid-season collapse to nail down fifth-place and spare their fans some embarrassment.

At the opposite end of the standings, Yadah FC eased their relegation fears with a 2-0 win over Bulawayo City at White City Stadium. Munyaradzi Chirava and Moses Demera scored in the first half as Yadah moved two points clear of Shabanie Mine, who occupy the last of the four relegation places.



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