D-Day for Black Rhinos
Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
BLACK Rhinos could become the second team to be relegated from the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League this afternoon if they fail to beat new boys Sheasham in a relegation dogfight, home away from home, at Bata this afternoon.
The army side’s fate hangs by a thread, hardly a week after sister club Cranborne Bullets, also owned by the uniformed forces, waved goodbye to topflight football, after only one season.
Unlike Bullets, Rhinos could still stage a remarkable escape should they win their remaining two games, and obviously hope for slip ups by the teams outside the relegation zone at the moment.
The 0-3 defeat at Hwange last week was a huge dent to their chances for surviving the chop but assistant coach Christopher Mwanza has chosen to focus on the positive side.
“The battle is still on and we are preparing for the last two games,” said Mwanza ahead of the trip to Bata.
“Of course, they are going to come strong at us. We are the home team but we will be playing at their home ground. So, to us it’s going to be something else, but we are not looking more at that. We just have to prepare for the match.”
Chauya Chipembere are currently second from the bottom with 32 points. They are five points shy of the position of safety and with only six points to play for, it would need a miracle for them to survive the chop.
Surprisingly, Rhinos have some capable players in all departments and one wonders why they are even in this position with players like Chelsea Nyakope and Darren Mutimuzunze in defence, talented midfielders Kudakwashe Nyakudanga, Valentine Katsande and Garikai Dematsika and veterans Lot Chiwunga and Evans Katema leading the attack.
The army side suffered a huge blow two weeks ago when two of their players Tatenda Mchisa and Brian Mukucha were shown red cards in their 1-0 win over fellow relegation fighters Yadah.
Douglas Mbewe has been down with injury he suffered on November 8 against Yadah and is again set to miss the trip to Gweru.
“We were just unfortunate that we received two red cards before we went to Hwange. We had two injuries and it affected our game, but one of them is recovering and gearing for the game against Sheasham,” said Mwanza.
Sheasham, on 35 points, are the first team in the drop zone and will also be desperate for maximum points to shore up their teetering maiden Premiership campaign.
There are also going to be interesting survival battles for Triangle, who sit third from the bottom. The Sugar Boys face an inglorious end to the season as they have managed 34 points in 32 games.
They are not likely to have it easy against CAPS United at Gibbo this afternoon. Makepekepe have since escaped the chop after going the last seven games unbeaten and reaching the magical 42 points.
CAPS United assistant coach Tonderai Marume said the Green Machine were looking to wrap up the season flawlessly.
“It’s okay that we are out of the relegation but as CAPS United, we don’t play to fight relegation. Every time we come into a season, the objective is the same: we play to win things and we are disappointed that this season we ended up fighting relegation instead of fighting for honours,” said Marume.
Tomorrow: Chicken Inn v Yadah (Luveve), FC Platinum v Hwange (Mandava), Black Rhinos v Sheasham (Bata), ZPC Kariba v Simba Bhora (Nyamhunga), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Cranborne Bullets (Baobab), Triangle v CAPS United (Gibbo), Dynamos v GreenFuel (NSS)
Sunday: Manica Diamonds v Highlanders (Gibbo, 1pm), Herentals v Bulawayo Chiefs (NSS, 1pm)
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