Ishemunyoro Chingwere in BELLEVUE, Mauritius
Pamplemousse 1-1 Ngezi Platinum
NGEZI Platinum Stars coach Tonderayi Ndiraya was a disappointed man, unhappy with lapses of concentration by his defence, and warned they need to improve if they are to leap the first hurdle in their Caf Confederation Cup campaign.
The Mhondoro miners, making their debut in the tournament, settled for a draw on this mission on the Indian Ocean island.
“I am happy with the shift the boys put in but we were a bit jittery in defence,” said Ndiraya.
“We can’t afford to commit such mistakes giving the opponent such soft goals like the one we gave today.
“It’s a worrying trend which I noted even in our friendly matches.
“But then most of these problems are mental, not lack of ability, so we will address that.”
Although they were by far the better team of the day, comfortably controlling the midfield, Ngezi did not create many clear chances for Kelvin Bulaji, leaving him to work hard.
Ndiraya will, however, be happy with the contribution of the former Dynamos duo of Walter Mukanga and Dominic Mukandi who were exceptional in the middle of the park.
The duo, on numerous occasions, broke the hosts’ build-up with Mukanga spicing up with brilliant passes across the field.
Captain Liberty Chakoroma also did not disappoint in attack compensating for his lack of dribling by muscling out opponents out of his way.
Chakoroma, playing in an unfamiliar attacking role, gave the visitors the lead with a well taken penalty in the eighth minute after Bulaji was fouled in the box.
Pamplemousse then equalised 10 minutes before the breather through Jean Fabrini who capitalised on a defensive mix-up by Ngezi.
Ndiraya employed a largely defensive approach with the three-man defence of Partson Jaure, Knowledge Machona and Godknows Murwira being shielded by a six- man midfield.
Bulaji played as the lone striker.
But they had a surprise in store as the hosts seemed content with minimising damage by employing time wasting tactics.
Goalkeeper Kevin Jean-Louis was on numerous occasions asked to hurry up his act by South African referee Christopher Harrison for continuously taking his time when dispatching goal kicks.
Ngezi, for their part, were jittery at the back but were lucky not to be punished by the opponents who were inept in attack.
Murwira could have restored the visitors’ lead in the 76th minute after a trademark run from deep in his half but watched in disbelief as his pile drive was pushed out for a corner.
Ndiraya then introduced skillful Terrence Dzukamanja and Maclive Phiri in search of a winner.
While the substitutes succeeded in adding impetus to the attack they, however, failed where it matters most and will have to fight another day.
It’s a fight Pamplemousse coach Tony Francois knows will be very difficult for his men.
“I am happy we got a draw,” said Francois.
“Ngezi is a very good team with a level much higher than us and we know it is going to be very difficult in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The Zimbabwe’s representatives are expected back home today at 17.20.