Ngezi Platinum Starts 0 - 0 Recreativo Do Libolo
(Recreativo Do Libolo 2-1 on aggregate)
ZIMBABWE'S CAF Confederations Cup representatives, Ngezi Platinum Stars, had only but themselves to blame after they crashed out of the continental competition following a disappointing nil-all draw against Angolan visitors, Recreativo do Libolo at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
A ghastly miss by second half substitute Maclive Phiri in the 58th minute and another by attacking midfielder Terrence Dzvukamanja, after coming face-to-face with the goal keeper, capped a miserable afternoon for the hosts, who failed to win a match they completely dominated.
Phiri, who had come on four minutes earlier, inexplicably failed to direct his effort into an empty net after man-of-the-match Donald Teguru had eliminated the visitors' goalkeeper Ricardo Jorge Batista and fed him on the edge of the six-yard box.
And when Dzvukamanja beat the offside trap and dragged his effort wide of the right upright post in a one-on-one situation, one could tell that Ngezi's fairy dance in the African safari was over.
Coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who transformed a team coming from Division 1 into a formidable side, blamed his charges for failing to score a goal at home.
"I think we have ourselves to blame. I thought we created a lot of chances, but we couldn't score. It's difficult to play a match. You do everything right, but you don't score and you fail to win," he said in a post-match interview.
"But overall, I thought we gave a good account of ourselves as an institution. Remember, we are a team that got into the league last year and won a major cup in our first year and for us to come this far, I think it's just a fairytale."
A fairytale indeed, but it was a fixture Ngezi Platinum should have won.
But the visitors, who had poor officiating to thank for a narrow home win last week, came with a strategy which they executed well.
They defended in numbers, feigned injury all game long and waited for the counter-attacks.
Ngezi completely dominated the Angolans in the first half, but failed to breach their packed defence.
Libolo had a glorious chance to take the lead when Brazilian striker Fabricio Simoes, a two-goal hero in the first leg, flashed his header just wide off Nelson Chadya's goals early in the second half.
Soon, another header by Nelson Fonseca was cleared off the line by Ngezi defender Partson Jaure, with Chadya out of his line and that summed up all of the threat posed by Libolo.
A Tichaona Mabvura shot had fans on their feet almost halfway into the half, but it had nestled into the side netting.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Chakoroma had a goal correctly flagged for offside as the match petered out into a draw.
Ngezi Platinum Stars: N Chadya, G Murwira, D. Mukandi, P Jaure, W Mukanga, L Chakoroma, D Teguru, T Mabvura (W Pakamisa 76'), Q Amini, K Bulaji (M Phiri 54'), T Dzvukamanja
Recreativo do Libolo: R Batista, N Fonseca, C Costa (K David 65'), I Cassuque, S Mariano (c), F Simoes (M Diawara 76'), W Macamo (E Juliao 83'), M de Oliveira, M Luvunga, E Afonso, J Kaya
- the standard