Ngezi Platinum are champions !

SIMBA BHORA . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)1


NGEZI Platinum Stars wrote their name into Zimbabwe football folklore after winning their maiden Premier Soccer League championship following a come-from-behind victory over Simba Bhora at Baobab Stadium yesterday.

Tinashe Balakasi had given Simba Bhora, who were ironically the home side, a first half lead as Ngezi Platinum produced a nervy display.

Kudzai Chigwida restored parity from the sport kick before Takunda Benhura scored his 12th goal of the season a minute from time.

Benhura is now the league's joint top scorer alongside Bulawayo Chief's Obriel Chirinda.

There were wild scenes of jubilation after the referee of the day Patrick Kalota blew the whistle to end the match as fans invaded the pitch and mobbed their heroes.

Coach Takesure Chiragwi was over the moon after the match and dedicated the match to the fans.

"To be honest they deserve to be happy like this. They have been with us throughout the season. When things were not well they have been with us. They deserve this championship for the first time. Even as a coach I am feeling good, I am feeling motivated, I am feeling more energy," he said amid the endless song and dance from the fans.

"It's good that as a young coach, you get into the industry and you make an impact like this. It was also my wish to win the league title. I want to give credit to the players, you know it was not easy. Our secret is we planned for this, we knew this season we needed to win the championship.

"We started our preseason on a high and started our training on 12 December for a reason. "We are happy because at the end of the day the fruits of our hard work are coming out. We have to make sure that we celebrate as a team and then start planning for the future. "We are now in the champions league which is important to us

"To be honest it has been a tough season and since the race started we have occupied positions from one to four but eventually we managed to grab it. I would like to thank all the teams that gave us competition. It was not easy, we were not sleeping but we showed character," said Chiragwi.

The weight of expectation clearly weighed on Ngezi Platinum as they made a lot of errors in the first half.

Simba Bhora were quick off the block and had a couple of chances early on from Balakasi and the inform Tymon Machope

Tinotenda Murasiramwa had two golden opportunities as the match wore on, but failed to connect with the ball on both occasions coming face to face with the goalkeeper Simba Chinani

Balakasi then gave Simba Bhora the lead with a brilliant header to beat Nelson Chadya at the near post six minutes before half time.

The half time pep talk appeared to have worked wonders for Ngezi Platinum with Chinani denying Farai Madhanaga with a superb acrobatic save early in the second half as they turned on the power.

The hosts were awarded a 65th minute penalty after the referee Kalota adjudged that Chinani had impeded upon Takunda Benhura after an attack

Up stepped Kudzai Chigwida to send the goalkeeper the wrong way in his initial take but the referee ordered a retake after Simba Bhora players encroached into the box.

Chigwida sent Chinani the wrong way again and this time the goal stood.

With the match seemingly destinated for a stalemate Benhura tapped in a 90th winner after some good work from the left side by Tapiwa Mandinyenya cross, a goal that guaranteed Ngezi Platinum the championship.

Ngezi Platinum will now represent Zimbabwe in the Caf champions league next season.

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