Under-performing Premiership returnees Zimbabwe Saints are in danger of being relegated as they face high-riding log-leaders FC Platinum in their 20th round of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match that has been moved to White City Stadium tomorrow.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) had pencilled the match for Barbourfields Stadium, but Chikwata have stuck to their home ground White City Stadium and club organising-secretary Jabulani Chinyangarara said they only played at Emagumeni against big teams like Highlanders, Dynamos or Caps United. He said they had held a pre-match meeting with PSL chief cashier Justice Dube and the police and confirmed the match would now be played at White City.
However, PSL chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele said no formal request had been made to him by Zimbabwe Saints for the match to be played at White City.
“Then the match would be played at White City, but I had not received any formal request for the match to be moved to White City Stadium. We felt it was a chance for Zimbabwe Saints to capitalise and make money since it is the only match that is to be played in Bulawayo on Sunday. It appears they have no marketing strategy.
It’s a pity because it would be a loss of revenue on their part and the other stakeholders,” Ndebele said.
FC Platinum secretary-general Phil Muvengwa also said he had received unofficial communication from Chinyangara that the match will be played at White City.
The Midlands-based platinum miners are seeking to consolidate their lead on the log-table. Reigning champions Motor Action faltered last weekend as they lost to 3-2 to Hwange at the Colliery.
The newly-assembled Chauya Chikwata ship continues to sink after they lost 2-0 to other relegation fighters Shabanie Mine at Maglas Stadium on Wednesday under new coach Ephraim Chawanda, who will be charge of his second match tomorrow.
Zimbabwe Saints have not won a match in their last nine games, which has thrown them into a precarious third from the bottom position on the log-standings with 10 matches remaining in the 2011 season.
Chikwata last won a match at White City Stadium when they beat Gunners 2-1 in May under the tutelage of Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo with goals from Ntokozo Tshuma and veteran Chipo Tsodzo.
They have lost seven and drawn two of their last nine matches.
Chawanda, however, said he was building a team that would survive the chop.
“When I took over the team was on the downward trend, and we are building a team to stop that. I’m actually giving the players that confidence.
Football is much easier when you play the big guys because it gives the players self motivation. We are going for three points on Sunday,” Chawanda said.
Chikwata has since assembled a new squad that has retained Tsodzo, Abraham Mbaiwa, Castro Ndebele, Gift Phiri, Joel Nyama, Fortune Nyambosi. Evans Rusike, Sydney Linyama, Nkosilathi Dube, Kevin Sibanda and Dumisani “Fazo” Ndlovu are some of the new faces at Chikwata.
FC Platinum coach Rahman Gumbo makes his first trip to Bulawayo with a strong squad that includes former Highlanders duo of brothers Zephania and Joel Ngodzo, reigning Soccer Star of the Year Charles Sibanda, Benjamin Marere, Thabani Kamusoko and goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube.
Today: Chicken Inn v Hwange (Luveve), Motor Action v Highlanders (Motor Action Stadium), Blue Ribbon v Masvingo (Rufaro), CAPS United v Kiglon (Gwanzura)
Tomorrow: Zimbabwe Saints v FC Platinum (White City) Shooting Stars v Dynamos (Rufaro), Shabanie Mine v Gunners (Maglas)