HWANGE FC became the second Premiership team to be relegated after Mushowani Stars following their 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened TelOne FC at Ascot Stadium, Gweru yesterday.
The draw took the coalminers’ points tally to 34, meaning a win on the last day of the season against ZPC Kariba will not save them as they will end the season with 37 points in the event of a victory, while Yadah and Herentals who occupy the other two relegation slots are on 38 points heading to the weekend games.
After a promising start to the season, at one time going toe to toe with the early pacesetters before fizzling out in the second half of the season, Hwange went on to fire assistant coach Brian Njobvu and later head coach Nation Dube following a string of poor results.
Caretaker coach, Edmore “MaMkhwebu” Sibanda, yesterday thrust in a number of youngsters into the starting team and they didn’t disappoint as they took the game to TelOne with Shephard Gadzikwa menacing on the right wing.
However, it was TelOne who surged ahead on the half hour mark through a long range drive from veteran midfielder James Jam that gave Hwange goalkeeper Tymon Mvula no chance.
After the goal, TelOne reduced the momentum, trying to delay and hold on to the slender lead, a move which backfired midway into the second half when Eddie Nkhulungo pounced on a loose ball from outside the box to score the equaliser.
The goal brought some urgency in the Hwange play with veteran Gilbert Zulu who had come for Vasilli Kawe being at the centre of their attacks.
With action swinging from one end to the other, TelOne tried to get a win that would have guaranteed them safety but lady luck was not on their side. Twice, they struck the upright through Jacob Muzokomba and King Nadolo.
“It wasn’t our day, luck was not on our side. We hit the bar two times and could have finished the game.
“I think my players failed to handle the pressure associated with such games when you are fighting against relegation. They have not been in this situation before.
There was a lot of tension and we couldn’t play well,” said Rahman Gumbo, TelOne coach.
Sibanda said: “Despite being relegated, I was impressed by these youngsters.
They had the energy to run and gave TelOne a torrid time. We go back to Division One and plan again for another return to the Premier League.”State media