FC Platinum began their quest for an unprecedented fifth successive Premier Soccer League title on a winning note after coming from behind to edge new boys Simba Bhora at the National Sports Stadium on Saturday.
Gifted midfielder Juan Mutudza was the hero for the Zvishavane-based platinum miners after scoring a late brace which ensured FC Platinum followed up last week’s Castle Challenge Cup triumph by winning their first league game of the season.
Veteran Ronald Chitiyo appeared to have set Simba Bhora on course for a fairy-tale start to their first season in the Premiership by putting the debutants ahead early in the second half with a well-taken strike from the edge of the box.
But FC Platinum rallied back scoring identical headed goals involving Mutudza and Gift Mbweti, as they nicked the victory with just a couple of minutes remaining on the clock.
It was a heart-breaking finish for Simba Bhora who were using the National Sports Stadium at their home ground after they failed to get their Shamva base ready in time for the start of the season.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza was elated with the winning start to their title defence despite playing away from home.
“It’s massive, it’s always good to have a great start. We know we are going to have some difficult games in the first five matches so it’s very important,” Mapeza told reporters after the match.
“We are looking at a minimum of 13 points in the first five games of the season and if we can get them I think we will be good,” he said.
While FC Platinum were celebrating a winning start as the National Sports Stadium, Harare giants were also in a jovial mood on the road as they began their league campaign with a 1-0 victory against Premiership returnees Hwange FC at Barbourfields.
Hwange were also playing their home game away from their Colliery base as it is yet to meet the PSL requirements.
Dynamos needed a second-half strike from striker Tinashe Makanda after he came on from the bench to grab the winner for the Glamour Boys.
The forward connected another DeMbare substitute Denver Mukamba’s ball in the 70th minute.
Dynamos held on for a hard-fought victory which ensured new head coach Hebert Maruwa began his tenure as the new head coach with a victory away from home.
“It’s a good start. It was always going to be very difficult playing Hwange away from home but I am happy we got that win away from home. It’s a process and I’m impressed with the boys. We played possessional football and it was good,” Maruwa said.
Meanwhile, at Mandava, Premiership new boys Sheasham secured a crucial point in their first match in the topflight league after holding last season’s runners-up Chicken Inn to a goalless draw.
The Gamecocks finished the match with 10 men after midfielder Tafadzwa Kutinyu received the first red card of the new campaign following his second booking in the second half.
At Luveve Stadium, Bulawayo Chiefs and Ngezi Platinum settled for a 1-1 draw, with Nkosilathi Ncube scoring for the hosts before the visitors rescued a point through a well-taken freekick by Qadir Amini in the second half.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Results and Fixtures
Saturday: Simba Bhora 1-2 FC Platinum, Sheasham 0-0 Chicken Inn, Bulawayo Chiefs 1-1 Ngezi Platinum, Hwange 0-1 Dynamos
Sunday: Caps United v Manica Diamonds (NSS), Triangle v Herentals (Gibbo), Highlanders v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields)
Monday: Yadah v Green Fuel (NSS 12pm), Cranborne Bullets v Black Rhinos (NSS 3pm)