Wounded FC Platinum are keen to revive their title push when they clash with defending champions Motor Action in a top-of-the-table Premier Soccer League match at Mandava Stadium on Sunday.
It will certainly be war.
Having endured an unusual two-game winless run in their latest assignments both played in Bulawayo within four days, Rahman Gumbo’s men surrendered top spot to the Mighty Bulls, who have never hidden their intentions of retaining the league title.
The sides are joint leaders on the log with 40 points, but Motor Action are on top courtesy of a superior goal difference.
The platinum miners’ Bulawayo hoodoo began with a goalless stalemate against lowly-placed Zimbabwe Saints at White City Stadium last Sunday, before succumbing 1-0 to inconsistent Highlanders at Barbourfields on Wednesday.
A Louis Matawu first half header earned Bosso three points and ended Gumbo’s eight-game unbeaten streak.
For the first time this season, FC Platinum went goal-barren in the two successive games, but however remain the second-highest scoring team with 29 goals behind Caps United who have netted 30 goals. And on Sunday, they come up against a Motor Action side boasting a strong defence which has just leaked in 10 goals.
Despite fighting to reclaim their lead, the platinum miners are out to restore their battered pride against Bulls, who edged them 2-1 in the reverse fixture on Africa Day in Harare.
FC Platinum secretary Philimon Muvengwa yesterday refused to admit that their last two games had set back their title challenge, but acknowledged that Motor Action are a strong side.
“I cannot necessarily say the last two games affected us in a negative way because we are not out yet. Our road to the championship remains unchanged. Sunday’s match against Motor Action is just like any other game. It is not different in any way, but they are a good side. They are strong and play very well, but that does not matter much to us,” said Muvengwa.
He added: “Yes, they beat us in the first leg, but that was then. This is another time and many things have changed. The second half of the season is different from the first and is always tough. Anything can happen.”
The flamboyant side has been camped in Gweru all week.
Motor Action arrive at Mandava Stadium buoyed by last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Highlanders who went on to beat their opponents.
Bulls coach Joey Antipas also told NewsDay Sport that they were not reading much in the May 25 victory.
“That game is now water under the bridge. Here we are talking of a different game altogether and we cannot bask in history,” said Antipas.
“We are preparing very hard for them and the preparations are going on very well. We have no injury worries in camp so everything is right.”
Antipas said the championship trophy was still far from their hands. “There is still a long way to go. Remember there are still 30 points to play for and it will not be easy.”
Motor Action, who have goalminder Marlon Jani marshalling their sturdy rearguard, will also be pinning their hopes on Themba Ndlovu and Tawanda Nyamandwe, who scored in the reverse fixture.
Reliable Allan Gahadzikwa can also come in handy for the Bulls.
With Young Warriors centre-back Lincoln Zvasiya having joined Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs in the South African Absa Premiership, Gumbo found no trouble in replacing him with experienced Itayi Gwandu, who is undoubtedly a trusted cadre of the tactician. Attackers Charles Sibanda, Benjamin Marere and Donald Ngoma will be on their toes to breach the Motor Action defence.