Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THOUSANDS of FC Patinum fans are expected in Harare today in a green invasion of the captital for the Castle Lager Premiership Judgment Day at the National Sports Stadium. The Zvishavane side, the league’s richest football club, have their destiny in their hands in a bid to win a third straight league title.
A draw, at worst, against CAPS United will secure them the title today although a defeat will be disastrous.
They hold a one-point advantage over the Green Machine but coach, Lizwe Sweswe, is not being carried away.
“I think we have done well to be where we are today. But, we need to be careful not to get carried away,’’ he said.
‘‘Sometimes, when you are about to cross the finishing line, you need character.
“A lot of things will be taking place in the players’ minds. So, we have to try and hold our nerve until the end of the 90 minutes because it’s not easy.
“This is an important match which I feel doesn’t need much of the coaches’ input. The players, themselves, know what is at the stake and it’s self-motivating.
“The destiny of the title is in our hands, it’s ours to lose. So, after we have done all the necessary preparations, we expect the players to raise their game and get the desired result.
“CAPS United are the home team and they have the backing of the 12th man.
“It has been a very tough season for both of us and for the other teams as well. Even if you look at the relegation battles, it’s all going to be decided on the very last day of the season.’’
The two clubs are expected to provide the final spectacle to a rollercoaster 2019 Castle Lager Premiership season at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
Makepekepe need an outright win while their opponents will be crowned the kings of domestic of football, for the third time in a row, with a draw.
This is one of the rare moments in Zimbabwe when the teams involved in the championship race have to settle matters in a head-to-head ending.
Statistics weigh heavily in favour of Makepekepe.
However, the previous four league meetings between the title contenders have failed to produce a winner, with no goal scored in the last 180 minutes of action at both Mandava and the National Sports Stadium.
Many a time they have been involved in close encounters but there is more at the stake this afternoon.
“I think this is one of the biggest games for us this year. We give a lot of respect to FC Platinum for what they have achieved in the last few years,” said CAPS United skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi.
“But we are ready to demonstrate that we also want to win the league title. It’s always a moment of a lifetime to win a championship medal.
“Of course, we suffered a setback during midweek but it’s something that we needed to quickly forget about and work on rectifying our mistakes.
“We have been preparing hard. Everyone knows it’s a do-or-die match and it means so much to each and every one of us.
‘‘We need to be focused and try as much as we can to concentrate on the job at hand.”
The Green Machine were knocked off the top of the table by FC Platinum on Wednesday after losing 2-3 at Ngezi Platinum.
FC Platinum, who were 1-0 victors over Black Rhinos on the same day, hold the aces going into this decisive match on 59 points, one ahead of CAPS United.
The two sides have met 17 times in the league since FC Platinum’s debut top-flight season in 2011.
Makepekepe have five wins, Pure Platinum Play just the one win, while the other 11 clashes have failed to produce a winner.
The only time FC Platinum beat CAPS United in a league match was back in 2014 when the Zvishavane side won 2-1 at Mandava.
Makepekepe have never lost to Pure Platinum Play in a league match in Harare where the teams have met eight times since 2011 with CAPS United winning on four occasions, the other four ending in draws.
It’s also a clash between the league’s best scorers and the meanest rear-guard.
CAPS United have plundered in 53 goals while FC Platinum have conceded 15 times in 33 games.
Sweswe declared a clean bill of health for his side, while CAPS United face an injury nightmare which has left their defence crippled following knocks on skipper Method Mwanjali, Justice Jangano, Valentine Musarurwa and Lincoln Zvasiya.
Castle Lager Premiership Fixtures
Today: Bulawayo Chiefs v Herentals (Luveve), Chicken Inn v TelOne (Barbourfields), Hwange v ZPC Kariba (Colliery), Mushowani Stars v Yadah (Trojan), Triangle United v Dynamos (Gibbo), Harare City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Rufaro) , CAPS United v FC Platinum (NSS), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot)
Tomorrow: Black Rhinos v Manica Diamonds (NSS)