HARARE – Ngezi Platinum Stars fairytale continued Saturday when they reached the first round of the African Confederation Cup following their slender 1-0 victory over Pamplemousses of Mauritius.
Forward Terrence Dzvukamanja scored the only goal of the game to ensure Tonderai Ndiraya’s side won the tie 2-1 on aggregate.
The two teams had played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Mauritius last weekend.
Madamburo have now secured a second round date against Angolan side Recreativo do Libolo next month.
Following the triumph, Ndiraya did not get carried away as he knows they have to improve drastically if they are to get past Libobo.
“We struggled today a bit in terms of fitness at this level of the game but what is important is that we got the result at the end of the day,” Ndiraya said.
“We are through to the next round of the competition but we have to work hard to improve; even harder than we did today and get ourselves to the condition that is expected at this level of the competition.
“Our next opponents are no pushovers; they are from Angola which is a renowned football nation so we have to take our game a gear up.”
Although they were playing at home, Ndiraya chose to start with a defensive formation as he had five defenders at the back.
The Ngezi back line comprised Byron Madzokere, Dominic Mukandi, Partson Jaure, Qadr Amini and Godknows Murwira.
In midfield, Ndiraya started with new signing Xolisani Moyo, Liberty Chakoroma and Donald Teguru while Kelvin Bulaji and Dzvukamanja were upfront.
Ndiraya was worried with the route one football the India Ocean islanders had employed in the first leg hence the conservative starting line up.
Madamburo started the game on the front foot as they asked a lot of questions of the Pamplemousses defence.
The home side took the lead in the 19th minute when Dzvukamanja found himself unmarked at the back post following a cross from Murwira.
Dzvukamanja showed composure by controlling the ballbefore turning to his weaker right foot and curled his rising shot to the far post beyond the reach of Pamplemousses goalkeeper Jean Louis Kevin.
The visitors could have equalised nine minutes before the break but winger Kengy Saramantif headed wide after a cross Branly Zizi.
Shorlty after, Ndiraya was forced to replace injured forward Bulaji by bringing in another new signing MacClive Phiri.
After the break, Teguru missed a good chance to increase the lead for the home side when he blazed over from close range in the 56th minute.
Pamplemousses keeper Kevin had spilled a low shot from Amini and all Teguru needed to do was to pass the ball into an empty net.
The lively winger watched in disbelief as his side-footed shot went over the bar.
Moments later, it was Amini’s turn to miss the target from close range after he had been set up by a wonderful delivery from the right by Murwira.
At that point, the Pamplemousses defence was just hanging on as they could not repel the Madamburo attacks.
In the 65th minute, another cross from Murwira caused anxious moments in the visitors’ box and the loose ball fell to Chakoroma on the edge of the area.
Kevin however, did well to save the shot from the Ngezi captain.
The home side were almost punished for failing to make the game safe when Zizi headed over from close range a free kick from Colin Bell in the 70th minute.
In the end, the platinum miners were able to hold on the win and secure their passage to the first round but Ndiraya was disappointed with the missed opportunities.
“It is worrisome but we were going to kick ourselves in the back if we had not won this match but this is football,” he said.
“What we just need to do is to just go back and work with the finishing part of the game with guys in training.”
Pamplemousses coach Tony Francois said: “It was a good match and we played some wonderful football but physically we were not up for it. As you could see, we created some chances but we could not score today. Ngezi is a good team; they created some chances and deserve to go through.”
Ngezi Platinum: Nelson Chadya, Dominic Mukandi, Partson Jaure, Byron Madzokere, Godknows Murwira, Qdr Amini, Liberty Chakoroma (Mhungu Edgar 80min), Xolisani Moyo, Donald Teguru Tichaona Mabvura 85min), Kelvin Bulaji (MacClive Phiri 38min), Terrence Dzvukamanja
Pamplemousses: Jean Louis Kevin, Walter St Martin, Williano Seraphin, Jackson Jeff, Kerison Agath, Colin Bell (Mervyn Jocelin 75min), Holas, Kevin Perticots (Agath Fabrice 84min), Kengy Seramantif (Sockaliagnum Guillaome 71 min), Fabrini Raza, Branly Zizi