Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
CHAMPIONS Dynamos took their unbeaten run in the Castle Lager Premiership to 14 games, to keep their destiny for a fourth straight league title in their hands, CAPS United have reason to believe, but rivals Highlanders have badly lost their way. The Glamour Boys are now unbeaten in the league, in four months, since they crashed to a 0-1 loss at the hands of Hwange at the Colliery in Round 11 of the championship race.
The Green Machine have been enjoying their unbeaten run too, which they stretched to seven league games at the weekend with a thumping 4-0 win over Bosso at the National Sports Stadium, having lost their last game against Hwange at the Colliery 1-2.
But Bosso, who slipped 10 points behind the Glamour Boys in the championship race after a thorough beating at the hands of the Green Machine at the National Sports Stadium, have lost their way after conceding seven goals in their last two league matches.
The Bulawayo giants stood toe-to-toe with Dynamos, in the past two seasons, in which they finished with the same number of points (69, in 2012 and 54 last year) but lost the championship race, on both occasions, because of an inferior goal difference.
But, having fallen 10 points off the pace being set by their biggest rivals, with just five league games to play and 15 plays at stake, even the die-hard Bosso fans accept that their challenge, for their first championship in eight years, has collapsed.
And, they have every reason to be pessimistic.
Compared to last season, after 25 games, Highlanders have shed eight points from their tally.
At this point of their campaign last year, Highlanders were top of the championship race with 47 points from 25 games, having won 14 matches, drawn five and lost six.
This year, after the same number of games, the Bulawayo giants find themselves struggling in fourth place, having shed eight points from last year’s tally, having won 10, drawn nine and lost six league matches.
The big difference has been in their number of victories given that where Bosso had won 14 matches, in 25 matches last year, Highlanders have now won just 10 league games and doubled the number of draws that they had in the bag at the same stage in 2013.
Consistent Dynamos have added four points to what they had in the bag at this stage of the season last year and that probably explains why they top the table while their big Bulawayo rivals are now in fourth place.
DeMbare had 45 points, after 25 games last year, but now the Glamour Boys have 49 points and where they had won a dozen games last season, Callisto Pasuwa and his men now have won 14 league matches and lost the same number of games — four league matches.
CAPS United were 11 points behind Bosso, after 25 league matches last season, with the Green Machine sitting on 36 points, compared to 47 for their Bulawayo rivals, having won just 10 games, drawing six and losing nine league matches.
But the Green Machine have staged a remarkable recovery, this year and have added nine points to their tally — which is the same as winning three more games — and they find themselves sitting on 45 points, just two behind second-placed ZPC Kariba and four behind leaders Dynamos.
CAPS United have won 13 games this season, compared to just 10 games last year, and this has helped them earn the nine points which has powered them into one of the favourites in the championship race as they search for their first league title in nine years.
CAPS United has a goal difference of plus three, after 25 games last year, but such has been the impressive turnaround, launched by Taurai Mangwiro and his men, that they now find themselves with a goal difference of plus 10, after the same number of games this year.
The Green Machine’s stunning recovery can best be seen when one factors where they were, after 25 games, in the 2012 championship race.
Two years ago, after 25 games, CAPS United were trailing the leading team, Bosso, by 22 points as they only had 31 points, having won just eight matches and drawn seven, for their tally of 31 points, which meant that they were completely out of the championship race.
Dynamos, with 52 points from their 25 games, were only one point behind Bosso and within striking distance and they went on to be crowned champions, for the second season in a row, after outlasting their big rivals on goal difference.
But CAPS United have worked their way, from trailing their rivals by more than 20 points after 25 games two years ago, to sitting within just four points of the leaders of the championship race this year.
Two years ago, CAPS United had won just eight league matches, drawn seven and lost 10 and had a goal difference of minus three.
Bosso were leading the way with 15 wins, in their 25 games, eight draws and two losses, for a total of 53 points while Dynamos were within striking distance of the leaders having won 16 games, drawn four and lost five of their 25 matches.
DeMbare remain the race, leading the marathon this year, but while CAPS United have bounced back to place themselves among the contenders for the title, Bosso have been losing their way and caretaker coach Mark Mathe was given a baptism of fire with the 0-4 defeat at the hands of CAPS United.
Bosso have failed to score a goal in three visits to the capital this year in matches against Harare City (0-1), Dynamos (0-1) and CAPS United (0-4).
Last year, Highlanders scored in the 1-1 draw against Dynamos at Rufaro, with Njabulo Ncube on target while DeMbare needed a very late goal by Partson Jaure, deep in time added on, to help them salvage a point in that showdown.
Bosso were also impressive as they hammered five goals in a win over Monomotapa, who would be relegated at the end of the season, while they also scored in a 1-1 draw against Motor Action in the capital.
They failed to score in the 0-4 defeat by Harare City, which effectively ended their championship challenge and the 0-1 defeat at the hands of Black Mambas.
Mangwiro might have failed to convince most of the CAPS United fans that he is the best man for the job, a militant section of the fans rebelled against him when the Green Machine hosted How Mine in a goalless draw at Rufaro, but the coach has quietly been leading a revolution at the club.
He deserves a lot of credit for guiding his team to remain competitive, in the championship race, in which the Green Machine find themselves within striking distance of the leaders Dynamos, just four points adrift, but with 15 points still on offer.
BIG THREE AFTER 25 GAMES
P W D L F A Pts
Highlanders 25 15 8 2 41 15 53
Dynamos 25 16 4 5 45 15 52
CAPS United 25 8 7 10 22 25 31
P W D L F A Pts
Highlanders 25 14 5 6 40 20 47
Dynamos 25 12 9 4 37 17 45
CAPS Utd 25 10 6 9 32 29 36
P W D L F A Pts
Dynamos 25 14 7 4 25 12 49
CAPS Utd 25 13 6 6 31 21 45
Highlanders 25 10 9 6 32 22 39