By Collen Nikisi
When FC Platinum narrowly lost out on the Premier League title to eventual winners Caps United two years ago it appeared their immediate reaction was to go out and strengthen the squad as a statement of intent for the following season.
If there is one new arrival that surprised many, it was Kelvin Madzongwe the midfield enforcer who arrived at Mandava virtually unknown but with a curriculum vitae that took him to Boston University, Njube Sundowns, and Bulawayo City.
The 29 year old midfielder admits when he joined FC Platinum he could not help but ponder what his position might be in the team and how he could help win titles. He knew he was was joining an excellent team who were over achieving and he did not expect to be a success straight away.
That proved to be the case as coach Norman Mapeza eased him in gently. There were some indifferent performances at first, and some questions as to why FC Platinum needed to strengthen in a department where they had several options, though by December 2017 Madzongwe was hitting his stride, proving to be invaluable by January 2018.
“I knew it would be difficult settling in and that there would be times when I was out of the team, and in terms of adapting there was a lot of preparation and hard work “, he says.
“It took a little while but by the time we played in the CAF Champions league I felt I was beginning to understand the speed , physicality , philosophy and the attention to detail that is required by coach Norman Mapeza, and the stand-out game in terms of building my confidence was when we drew with Orlando Pirates at a packed Barbourfields. It was probably one of the best performances of the campaign.
“I kept up with the rhythm and pace. We were superior that day, and I felt at home in Pure Platinum Play colours.”
Madzongwe never doubted that he would rise to the challenge of playing regularly at FC Platinum , and his energy , strength and ability to sniff out danger has made the key difference. He has stamped his authority in all the contests, thundered into tackles and used the ball intelligently.
As the defending champions prepare to take on Ngezi Platinum. the Pure Platinum side know that keeping their most consistent midfielder fit and healthy is key .
“It has been a long season for us and we are ready for the intensity and high quality of every team we come up against as a team .It was difficult for me at first to get used to having so little recovery time between games -they seemed to come around too quickly -but that is an area I have improved and I feel more comfortable now.
At least fatigue should not be an issue in Ngezi -Mhondoro , when a fully fit and prepared Madzongwe will be attempting to coax another towering midfield performance from his deceptively slight frame.
He smiles at the suggestion that he looks bigger on the pitch than he does in real life ; he has obviously heard it before.
“ I may not appear that strong and powerful but I know how to use my body and strength “ he says
.”If you can read the game well and anticipate- it helps a lot”.
Saturday: Herentals v CAPS United (NSS); Chicken Inn v Harare City (Luveve); ZPC Kariba v Chapungu (Nyamhunga); Yadah v Highlanders (Rufaro); Ngezi Platinum v FC Platinum (Baobab)
Sunday: Hwange v Triangle (Colliery); Mushowani Stars v Bulawayo Chiefs (NSS); Tel One v Black Rhinos (Luveve); Dynamos v Manica Diamonds (Rufaro)