FOR 94 minutes, FC Platinum were on their deathbed against Harare City at a waterlogged Mandava Stadium on Sunday in the Chibuku Super Cup final.
City were leading 1-0 and referee Norman Matemera was preparing to end the match.
FC Platinum fans, because of the showers that were now coming down, were quickly streaming out of the stadium.
To them, their fate had been sealed — City had come from Harare and taken the Chibuku Super Cup back to the capital.
The FC Platinum fans, numbering probably 12 000 or so and clad in their traditional green and white replicas and scarfs, could not stomach watching City and captain David Kutyauripo going up the podium to lift the coveted silverware.
They would rather be in the comfort of their homes and bars, discussing what could possibly have gone wrong on a fine, but chilly afternoon, when they had started as hot favourites to steamroll past a City side that was headed for Division One.
City — through Kutyauripo, Arnold Chivheya and Chrispen Dickson — had defended with body and limb to ensure that FC Platinum did not equalise as they were leading 1-0 from a Talent Chawapiwa goal in the first half.
In fact, Dickson had made a match-winning save — or so he thought — when he intercepted a smart pass from Walter Musona right at Obrey Chirwa’s feet that would have left the Zambian with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Unfortunately, in that tackle, Dickson injured himself and left the pitch, which had been muddied by persistent rains since the start of the week. Dickson’s injury seemingly destabilised the City defence.
Then with the podium set for a Harare City medal and trophy presentation, Musona struck and the FC Platinum fans raced back into the stadium.
There was disbelief from the City bench and players, and the culprit was the referee — Matemera — not FC Platinum’s
City conceded a free-kick and Thabani Kamusoko (arguably the man of the match), who conducted his orchestra with aplomb, swung in the free-kick into the box, but the many City defenders failed to clear and Musona had the last touch which directed the ball past goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupanedengu.
Kutyauripo was a shade behind his keeper and cleared the effort with Nyamupanedengu holding his head. But Kutyauripo was behind the line when he cleared the ball.
Matemera thought the ball had gone in, but waited for his better positioned far-side assistant referee Abraham Manda for a signal.
Manda signalled for a goal, Matemera obliged, and all hell broke loose.
Television footage clearly shows that City have no case about complaining against a “ghost” goal — the ball crossed the line and was cleared by a defender who was on the other side of the line.
Emotions ran high, security officials from both teams threatened to trade blows as the police watched helplessly with extra time now in progress.
With no further goals in extra time, it was time for the penalty lottery and one could tell from the body language of the City players they were unprepared for this.
Kamusoko missed for FC Platinum and Raymond Uchena, who had come in as a substitute, fired at the birds as well.
Musona converted, Timire Mamvura levelled for City before Raphael Muduviwa made it 2-1 to FC Platinum, Nyamupanedengu hit the post, Kelvin Moyo made it 3-1 to the Pure Platinum Play and it was left to Osbourne Mukuradare to keep City in the game.
Then the hero of the day, the skipper of the day for FC Platinum — goalkeeper Petros Mhari — decided this was his time to shine.
Mukuradare hit a low shot to the right and Mhari dived to smother the effort and, once again, just like when they had equalised, FC Platinum fans and players erupted into uncontrollable tears of joy as they celebrated the victory.
Coach Norman Mapeza waved a fist of glory as he swept past the City bench to his players, club president George Mawere and his chairman Dumisani Sisale, in one swift movement, were among the first to join in the celebrations.
Such is football, and City, like Highlanders against Dynamos, learnt that the game is not over until the fat lady sings, especially when the fat lady is one Matemera.
Mapeza told the media after the match: “I was absent from football for two years, now I am back and God has something for me. In football, at times, luck works and today luck was on our side.
“We have been working hard and it’s good to get the result after so much hard work.”