FC Platinum crowned Zimbabwean champions
New signing Devon Chafa rose from the bench to score a stunning effort as FC Platinum edged Shabanie Mine 1-0 at Maglas Stadium to win the 2018 Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League title with two matches to spare.
Platinum had gone into matchday 33 needing just a point to bag a second consecutive championship, and there was little Shabanie could do to stop the party.
The Asbestos Miners did make an effort though, frustrating their more fancied neighbours for much of a first-half which ended goalless.
Platinum upped the tempo after the break, with Farai Madhananga's effort being cleared off the line on the hour mark.
Chafa, signed a couple of months ago following his premature return from Zambia, then grabbed the winner with a quarter of an hour to go after beating Shabanie goalkeeper Biggie Temera with an exquisite left footer.
Sunday's win took Platinum's points tally to 74, nine more than second-placed Ngezi with just two matches to play.
Ngezi had scored twice in the second-half to end a three-match winless run with a 2-0 victory at home to Bulawayo Chiefs, but that result proved of little import.
In the end, it is the Mhondoro-based Miners' poor form in the second-half of the season which has allowed Platinum to gallop to the finish line virtually unchallenged.
Ngezi were in scintillating form at the start of the campaign, winning 12 and drawing two of their first 14 matches of the campaign to emerge as hot favourites for the title.
However, they inexplicably lost their bearings after the midseason break, enduring four defeats in a row to allow Platinum to seize the initiative.
Norman Mapeza's men are deserving champions, having remained consistent throughout.
Their only blip in form came in July when they went for three matches without victory after a defeat at home to ZPC Kariba was followed by two draws against Yadah FC and CAPS United.
However, they quickly regrouped to win nine of their next 12 matches and open up a nine-point lead over a stuttering Ngezi.
In many of those matches, it is reigning Player of the Year Ronald Chinyengetere who has proved the difference.
The 30-year-old has scored a stunning 17 goals from midfield this term, and 10 of those have come in the last eight matches as he powered Platinum towards the finish line.