By Alvin Madzivanzira
WHEN reliving eventful moments in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, one match that firmly carved its name in the annals of the country’s football history was the decisive FC Platinum vs Dynamos match at Mandava Stadium, in Zvishavane, in 2011.
The high stakes match is still etched in the memories of avid soccer followers as it was not only an epic and blockbuster tie but a title-decider as well.
The two teams were meeting only for the second time in the league.
Dynamos had won the home fixture at Rufaro Stadium.
FC Platinum wanted blood and the title.
The winner-takes-all match had all kinds of speculation before kick-off, with bookmakers and fans alike in a dilemma as to who would grab the three points.
Dynamos were on a rampage while FC Platinum had dominated the log for the greater part of the season.
Moreover, the league debutants were enjoying a three- point lead at the apex of the 16-team log, making them hot favourites to clinch the title.
Powered by some of the best players in the country, the expensively-assembled FC Platinum famed ‘Kugona Kunenge Kudada’ was talk of the season.
The late Benjamin Moyo, the platinum miners’ coach, had a well-oiled machine that was ready to make history.
His untimely demise during the season was also a motivating factor for FC Platinum. Former Warriors gaffer Rahman Gumbo was brought in to replace the much loved Moyo.
FC Platinum were on the brink of becoming the second team, after Black Rhinos, to win the league in their maiden year in the top flight.
The army side won it in 1984.
Black Rhinos still hold the record.
From the ZIFA Central Region Division One, the platinum miners had done well in the season outwitting most teams.
Goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, the Ngodzo siblings Zephania and Joel, Norman Togara, the lethal Benjamin Marere, Charles Sibanda (the 2010 soccer star), Daniel Veremu and Donald Ngoma were some of the big names behind FC Platinum’s success story.
Zvishavane, some 450 km south-west of Harare, had been predominantly the habitat of Shabanie Mine football club, owned by an asbestos mining concern.
The Chinda Boys, as Shabanie are affectionately known in soccer circles, are one of the oldest clubs in the country and command a significant following in the small mining town.
The entry of the platinum miners was a game changer in the soccer preferences of the populace.
It created two rival camps.
The Zvishavane derby was born.
A derby that had the magnitude of the Harare derby between CAPS United and Dynamos or the Bulawayo derby featuring Highlanders and Zimbabwe Saints was also born.
On Saturday, November 12 2011 at Mandava Stadium, the blue and white army descended on Zvishavane for nothing short of three points.
Occupying second position on the log, Dynamos aimed to wrestle the title from FC Platinum who were poised for glory.
A draw could still be good for the platinum miners while a loss meant they were level on points with Dynamos.
However, Kalisto Pasuwa’s DeMbare had scored more goals in the season and could not afford sharing the spoils in the match.
The football gods, however, had some thoughts for the match.
The hot Zvishavane afternoon could not deter the fans.
Watched by more than 30 000 pairs of eyes, the still under-construction Mandava was filled to the rafters.
Even the vendors felt the pinch of the bumper crowd as all their wares finished in no time. Some had to watch the match from rooftops of homes adjacent to the stadium while others who were inside climbed on anything that would guarantee a clear view of the pitch.
However, there was one unlucky pack of spectators who watched from an asbestos roofed toilet that later gave in to weight. No one was injured but many had something to laugh about off the field of play.
Action started on the field of play and each team was cautious in their approach.
It was an end-to-end game that kept fans on the edge of their seats.
Visitors took time to settle into the match, with hosts testing Dynamos goalie Washington Arubi in the 6th minute with a grounder from Charles Sibanda.
The first-half ended goalless, but it was a tale of missed chances with goalkeepers being heroes of the two teams.
Arubi made at least three saves, including Zephaniah Ngodzo’s freekick he tipped over the cross bar.
The second-half saw Dynamos coming stronger.
Right back David Kutyauripo had a good afternoon on his flank.
He had one long range shot saved by Dube while he flighted several crosses into the box for Cuthbert Malajila.
The 66th minute changed everything.
The pendulum swung.
FC Platinum were made to pay as they conceded the one and only goal of the afternoon.
Veremu scored against his team and the platinum miners never recovered from that goal. Veremu, who is now into coaching, opened up on his only career own goal.
“It was a heartbreak, true, but everyone understood what I was trying to do but was just unfortunate. I was rushing facing our goal with (Cuthbert) Malajila besides me. I thought Tafadzwa (Dube) would come out for it because it was a long ball into the box. So when I realised kuti patoipa (things have gone wrong), it was too late. Plus to us, we knew we blew the chance when we lost to Gunners 2-1 in Harare.
I tried to head it over the goal but the way I was positioned was wrong. I was now facing my goal at the same time under pressure from Malajila, you know him heading was his other strongest weapon.
I think the first mistake was we defended too deep into our box. The free kick was too far near halfway line. Guthrie (Zhokinyu) just launched it into the box.
To my surprise most fingers pointed to Benji (Benjamin Marere) than me because he missed a glorious chance, one metre from the goal but it was just emotions. And the other thing, we changed the way we were playing all our home games. Just like what CAPS United did last year when they lost to FC Platinum at home.” said the former Zimbabwe international player.
After conceding the goal, FC Platinum tried in vain to come back.
Marere was the key culprit who fluffed a glorious chance in 88th minute over the cross bar.
The result was both teams were tied on 50 points.
Dynamos had superior goal difference of +25 goals while FC Platinum had +21.
The last round of matches was to see Dynamos playing Kiglon while FC Platinum faced Shooting Stars.
Though FC Platinum won the match, the inferior goal difference denied them a chance to lay hands on the cup
Dynamos won the match and were crowned champions.
That was the beginning of the four-year journey for Pasuwa.