Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THIS is it!
Ten years ago, it was all about Michael Jackson and his farewell tour dubbed, “This Is It”, which was later cancelled after the death of the King of Pop on June 25, 2009.
Today, exactly 10 years later, it’s about the domestic Premiership when everything comes to a climax in a winner-take-all showdown for the crown between CAPS United and FC Platinum.
Football matches, in the domestic Premiership, don’t come any bigger than this.
‘‘It’s the biggest match of the season as CAPS United go head-to-head with the defending champions FC Platinum on Saturday 14 December 2019 for the Castle Lager PSL Trophy at the National Sports Stadium (1500hrs),’’ the PSL said yesterday.
Never in the history of the domestic Premiership has the two clubs, fighting for the league title, found themselves battling for honours in the final match of the season.
Some have claimed this was the case back in 2001 when Highlanders and Amazulu were involved in a royal battle for the league championship.
However, records show that the Bosso/Usuthu showdown was not the final match of that campaign as Amazulu then took on Dynamos in Harare in their next game.
The challenge for FC Platinum is simple – avoid defeat at the giant stadium, something which has happened half the number of times they have visited the capital for a date against the Green Machine, and they will take the league championship back to Zvishavane.
If they win, then Lizwe Sweswe and his men would have done it in style.
For CAPS United, fighting for a sixth league title in their history, the challenge is even tougher – they have to win today’s game and then the championship is theirs.
Pressure is on coach Darlington Dodo and his men who, just three days ago, looked anything but a championship-winning side as they turned on a show, long on mediocrity and short on quality, in a 2-3 defeat at the hands of Ngezi Platinum.
‘‘Even now, I am failing to understand how we didn’t score seven or eight goals in that game,’’ Ngezi Platinum coach, Rodwell Dhlakama, said.
‘‘Now, and again, we kept creating chances, opening up their defence every time we charged forward and the final result, 3-2, doesn’t tell the real story.
‘‘Somehow, after racing to a 3-0 lead, my boys started to try and showboat and they became complacent which resulted in the opponents scoring the two goals.
‘’But, the way CAPS United fought back with those two goals showed they have character and that means they remain a dangerous side capable of rising to the occasion in the final match.’’
Defending has been a problem for the Green Machine who have now conceded 41 goals, the highest number of goals among the teams in the top half of the league.
Dodo’s task has even been made tougher by the injuries which have crippled his defence with Lincoln Zvasiya, who was the outstanding player in the Harare Derby win over Dynamos the last time the Green Machine played at their home, being forced out of the match on Wednesday because of a hamstring strain.
This means the CAPS United coach could be forced to bring back skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi into the starting XI, banking on his experience, to play the right back role with Valentine Musarurwa being pushed to the left channel.
But, the Green Machine haven’t built their campaign, which has now taken them to the gates of glory, on a tight defence but a deadly strikeforce, the best in the league by a distance.
And, as they showed even in that losing cause on Wednesday, they have the capacity to score goals – something which they need if they are to have any chance of winning the league title today.
However, this is an FC Platinum side which, save for the shortcomings which have been exposed on their continental adventure, have shown great discipline in defence where they are the best side, in the country, when it comes to repelling opponents.
History shows they have never beaten CAPS United in Harare but, of course, there is always a first time in football.
There is no question this will be a nervy affair, with very little room for error, and it’s about who wants it more – the champions or the challengers?
CAPS United have to do it for Shacky Tauro, their late great striker who was the architect of their first league title exactly 40 years ago when the Green Machine announced their arrival, on the big scene, in style by being crowned champions in 1979.
Tauro, who was later voted the Soccer Star of the Year that season, died exactly 10 years ago.
The Harare giants also have to do it for Blessing Makunike, Gary Mashoko and Shingi Arlon, the three players they lost in March 2004 when the car they were travelling in, on their way back home from a league match in Bulawayo, crashed and burst into a fireball. This year marks exactly 15 years since that accident.
And, they also have to do it for Method Mwanjali, their ageless son who returned for one final fling with his beloved CAPS United, desperate to win a league title with them, only for his season to be cut short by injury.
FC Platinum don’t care about all that.
Since coming of age, when they busted the myth that clubs from outside Harare and Bulawayo were cursed never to win the league title in the post-Independence era, the Zvishavane side have established themselves as an oasis of professionalism, under the guidance of club president George Mawere.
They are a tough team to beat and, if we take away that 0-3 defeat at the hands of Highlanders in the Chibuku Super Cup, they rarely show any signs of weakness on the domestic front.
The pre-match battles started yesterday, with FC Platinum supporters turning to Twitter to mock their opponents with a picture of the team’s five buses and saying, unlike CAPS United who received theirs from a donation by Nyasha Mushekwi, the Zvishavane side bought their buses.
‘‘We didn’t source them, somewhere, though they are ours, we paid full duty for them,’’ the FC Platinum supporters tweeted.
‘‘See you tomorrow Kepekepe.’’
There will be a lot of singing today, not as good as Michael Jackson used to do it, but you are likely to be treated to song and dance at the giant stadium this afternoon.
The King of Pop is dead, he died 10 years ago, but the king of Zimbabwean football lives and, today, we will know the identity of the team that will take the crown.