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Champions Ngezi off the mark

Champions Ngezi Platinum

Ngezi Platinum . . . . . . . (1) 1

Manica Diamonds . . . . . . . 0

Champions Ngezi Platinum claimed a belated first victory in their title defense by beating last season's surprise runners-up Manica Diamonds at Baobab Stadium on Monday.

Clive Mapoka's 38th minute header, off a brilliant Qadr Amini freekick was enough for the Takesure Chiragwi-coached side to claim their first win of the season and condemn the struggling Mutare-based side to their fourth winless game.

The Mhondoro side had also endured a dismal start to the new campaign by claiming just two points from the first nine on offer. 

And they came flying out of the blocks in front of their partisan crowd, creating very good chances early on.

Amini hit the upright straight from a corner kick before Marvelous Mukumba failed to beat Manica Diamonds keeper Geofrey Chitsumba from a one on one situation inside the opening 10 minutes.

The hosts would, however, wait a little longer to get the opener, with Mapoka nodding home from close range for his team's first league goal of the season after the half hour mark.

They continued to create the better chances, with Walter Vuwa slicing his shot wide, failing to capitalise on a mistake by Chelsea Nyakope, while Nigel Makumbe drew a good save from Chitsumba early in the second half with a headed effort.

Manica Diamonds were poor in the first half, and their first real chance would arrive on the hour mark when substitute Tawanda Macheke failed to push the ball over the line in a crowded box.

Fortune Binzi miscued his overhead kick moments later as the visitors threatened to claw their way back into the game.

Under fire Diamonds coach Jairosi threw in former Warriors winger Kuda Mahachi to try and unlock the Ngezi defense, but the home side managed to see off the game comfortably.

Chiragwi was delighted with his first league victory of the season, which took his side to eleventh position on the league table.

"I want to thank God and the players. From the first game up to today, these guys were playing well and what was lacking was putting the ball behind the net. We did well and I thought we should have gone to halftime 3-nil up. This win is important and I'm sure it will open doors for us," Chiragwi said.

Yesterday's loss was Manica Diamond's third defeat in four games as they remain on one point, and bottom of the log standings.

Pressure is mounting on coach Tapera, with rumors the club is already hunting for his replacement.

Speaking to the media, the former Triangle coach is hopeful that his side will come right.

"In terms of performance we played an excellent game. We tried by all means to defend because they were coming at us. We did well, it's unfortunate that in the last five minutes (of the first half) there was a lapse of concentration from a set piece and they scored. In the second half we were a better side and we were so organised after we made some changes. We created some chances and we could have at least scored a goal but eventually we got a painful 1-0. We will keep trying and I'm sure we will get it right next time," Tapera said.

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