Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE Premier Soccer League yesterday set the tone for an exciting finish to this year’s championship race after the authorities directed the top three teams — CAPS United, Highlanders and FC Platinum — to play their remaining fixtures at the same time. The top three will this week play their matches on Saturday with leaders CAPS United engaging in a potentially explosive derby against Harare City at Rufaro.
FC Platinum rekindle their rivalry with Chapungu in a Midlands derby at Ascot while Highlanders host Tsholotsho at Barbourfields. PSL competitions manager Elisha Mandireva said in the spirit of Fair Play and to avoid heaping unjust pressure, all the matches featuring the title contenders will be played on the same day this week.
“We have decided to let it so this week and see how it goes. But we are still going to review after the weekend matches to see if it will be necessary up to the end of the season,” said Mandireva.
Bosso, who usually play their home matches on Sunday, were the only team that was affected by the directive this week. CAPS United will be away at Harare City who play on Saturdays while Chapungu and FC Platinum also play home matches on the same day.
Makepekepe are leading the race with 54 points. They face another tough hurdle in their quest for glory after surviving what had appeared a certain defeat in their last match against Dynamos at the National Sports Stadium.
The Green Machine managed to hold on to pole position after scoring three goals in the last seven minutes to scramble a 3-3 draw and earn a crucial point. The point they salvaged in the last match against Dynamos is the difference between them and Highlanders who moved into second place after beating Bulawayo City 3-1.
CAPS United, who are seeking to end an 11-year barren run, still face strong competition from Highlanders and FC Platinum with three games remaining in the season. FC Platinum are within striking distance on 52 points though the platinum miners have lost considerable ground since they were dislodged from the top two weeks ago.
They will be praying that Harare City, the same team that dealt their campaign a huge blow with a 2-1 defeat at Rufaro, will do the same to CAPS United this Saturday. FC Platinum, who led the race for most of the season, have now dropped into third place.
But they are still in the hunt and are the only team with a strong case for a possible league and cup double after reaching the final of the Chibuku Super Cup at the weekend. Sadly, tragedy struck their camp after two of their players Charles Sibanda and Winston Mhango were involved in a road accident on their way to Bulawayo just hours after they had thrashed Harare City 3-0 in the Chibuku semi-final at Mandava.
Club spokesperson Chido Chizondo yesterday said the players were recovering well. She told Sportszone they expected the duo to be discharged from Mater Dei Hospital by yesterday.
“There were no fractures. Charles lost his front teeth while Mhango sustained some injuries which are not serious. “The two are expected out of hospital later today (yesterday) or tomorrow,” said Chizondo.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza, who had warned the players against travelling at night, revealed the two will need two weeks to fully recover. “What happened is sad. I had actually advised all the players who wanted to travel to do (that) the morning after. “The good news is that there is nothing serious. They will need about two weeks to recover,” said Mapeza. The influential duo will miss the trip to Chapungu.
Saturday: Harare City v CAPS United (Rufaro), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Hwange (Baobab), Chapungu v FC Platinum (Ascot), Highlanders v Tsholotsho (Barbourfields).
Sunday: Border Strikers v Triangle United (Dulivhadzimo), Dynamos v Mutare City Rovers (Rufaro), How Mine v Chicken Inn (Luveve), Bulawayo City v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields).