Ricky Zililo Sports Reporter
EXCITING matches are on the cards this afternoon when the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League resumes after a three-week sabbatical.
Four fixtures are lined up for today with the remaining four set for tomorrow.A lot is at stake for all the teams with others fighting for their survival while some are looking at the ultimate prize — the Castle Lager Premiership title.
It is difficult to pick the match of the day this afternoon as all encounters are potentially explosive games.
Log leaders Harare City travel to the busiest border town in Sub-Saharan Africa — Beitbridge — for a date with bottom of the table Tripple B while Chicken Inn play host to How Mine at Luveve Stadium. Caps United are away to FC Platinum at Mandava.
The Monomotapa-Hwange game completes today’s fixtures.
For Bulawayo fans who had been starved of top flight soccer action for some time, all roads lead to Luveve Stadium for the Chicken Inn-How Mine game.
Chicken Inn will be hoping to complete a double over How Mine and their preparations have been boosted by the availability of national team trio of Felix Chindungwe, the league’s top marksman Tendai Ndoro and defensive midfielder Danny Phiri.
The three players who were in the national team camp preparing for the Warriors’ African Nations Championships clash with Zambia trained with the rest of the Chicken Inn squad yesterday morning.
Chicken Inn is one of the six clubs that are in the championship race as they are sixth on the table tied on 31 points with fourth placed Caps United after 18 matches. The Gamecocks trail log leaders Harare City by six points.
Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu, the Chicken Inn gaffer described today’s tie as “a must win encounter.”
“Our preparations have gone well and the good thing is that our players who were with the national team are part of the squad. It is our hope that we will do well because if we want to maintain our position on the table or move up the ladder, we must win this game.
“It is going to be a tough game as this is more of a derby and the players know each other but we are looking forward to collecting maximum points,” said Mpofu.
Before the break, Chicken Inn were beaten 2-3 by Black Mambas and they will be hoping to recover from that minor championship chase setback.
However, they must not expect a stroll on the park as How Mine are capable of inflicting damage on them.
How Mine will be under the guidance of caretaker coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube who took over the reigns from Philani Mabhena.
Ncube is facing his former paymasters and the gold miners were busy on the transfer market. They brought on board veteran striker Sizalobuhle Dube, ex-national team defender Nyasha Mukumbi, goalkeeper Ephraim Mazarura and ex-Highlanders and Bantu Rovers striker Qinani Sibanda.
How Mine also have the likes of Hebert Dick, Gilbert Banda, national team striker Simba Sithole, Thandazani Ndlovu and Menard Mupera to bank on.
“I have lots of respect for Chicken Inn because they have been in the league for some time and they have also been doing well. We are ready for the game and I must say there is no team that gets into the field of play wanting to lose a match and we are not different.
“We hope our game plan will work in our favour and we get maximum points,” said Ncube.
Meanwhile, log leaders Harare City who beat sixth placed FC Platinum 1-0 in their last league match travel to Beitbridge for a tricky encounter with relegation threatened Tripple B.
The Bigboy Mawiwi coached Harare City are aware that any slip up at this stage could cost them their hope of a maiden league title.
Harare City only signed dead-ball specialist Munyaradzi Kanyarimwe from Shabanie Mine while their opponents made seven signings in a move meant to strengthen their squad and move away from the relegation zone.
The log leaders must brace themselves for a difficult game at Dulibadzimu as Tripple B have said they will make life difficult for their opponents.
Mawiwi dismissed championship talk and said he has lots of respect for Tripple B.
“It’s too early to talk about the championship because there are a lot of games left. What we are doing is taking each game as it comes. We respect Tripple B because they have been playing very well,” said Mawiwi.
Some of the players expected to lead Harare City in Beitbridge include Osbourne Mukuradare, Tendai Ngulube, goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu and Silas Songani.
Tripple B’s gaffer Peter Manoti said they were excited to play host to the log leaders.
He said the encounter is a “self motivator for the players.”
“We have six home matches left and for us to survive relegation we need to pick maximum points at home. It is good that we play the log leaders and it’s easy to motivate players for such games. Every player dreams of beating a team that is at the top and Harare City can underrate us at their own peril,” said Manoti.
He was confident that the players they bought during the mid-season transfer window would add value to the team.
The border town club brought in Julius Daudi and Dion Homela from Chicken Inn, Makai Kawashu from ZPC Kariba, Flame Lily’s Forward Makambanga, Blessing Mazorodze from Power Master, Obey Hunduza (FC Platinum) and promoted Shepherd Sithole from their juniors.
Tripple B also have the likes of leading goal scorer Aleck Marime with eight Premiership goals, Oscar Chve, Maxwell Mavhuto, Eddie Chapfungamoyo and Timire Mamvura who are capable of leading them away from the murky relegation waters.
In Zvishavane, FC Platinum will host resurgent Caps United.
A victory for FC Platinum who are on position six with 29 points will see them replacing Caps United at fourth place.
Tomorrow, defending champions Dynamos take on troubled Motor Action while Bulawayo giants Highlanders travel to the capital for a date with Black Mambas.
Today: Monomotapa v Hwange (Rufaro), FC Platinum v Caps United (Mandava), Tripple B v Harare City (Dulibadzimu), Chicken Inn v How Mine (Luveve)
Tomorrow: Shabanie Mine v Buffaloes (Maglas), Dynamos v Motor Action (Rufaro), Triangle v Black Rhinos (Gibbo), Black Mambas v Highlanders (Morris Depot)
P W D L F A Pts
Harare City 18 11 4 3 27 15 37
Highlanders 18 10 4 4 28 15 34
Dynamos 18 8 8 2 24 10 32
Caps United 18 9 4 5 24 17 31
Chicken Inn 18 9 4 5 25 19 31
FC Platinum 18 8 5 5 21 16 29
Buffaloes 18 8 1 9 31 31 25
Shabanie Mine 18 7 3 8 19 23 24
How Mine 18 7 3 8 18 22 24
Triangle 18 6 4 8 20 22 22
Monomotapa 18 6 4 8 21 27 22
Black Mambas 18 7 1 10 18 25 22
Hwange 18 4 6 8 16 20 18
Black Rhinos 18 4 6 8 18 26 18
Tripple B 18 4 4 10 17 27 16
Motor Action 18 3 5 10 12 24 14
Powered by WPeMatico