WHILE it has been at all peace at defending Castle Lager PremierSoccer League (PSL) champions Dynamos and title aspirants ZPC Kariba, there has been the absence of such at fellow title chasers Highlanders and Caps United heading into Matchday 23.
Dynamos lead the standings with 43 points and face Shabanie Mine at Rufaro tomorrow, ZPC Kariba are already in Bulawayo to face Highlanders tomorrow while Caps United are at Rimuka against Black Rhinos afternoon.
If these three ties cannot define the season, then there could be twists and turns as teams chase the possible four spots for the season-ending Mbada Diamonds Cup, which is likely to be scaled down this year.
The action starts at Rimuka this afternoon when Caps take on Rhinos in a match that will be televised live on SuperSport 9, starting at 1445hrs.
Sitting on 39 points and fourth spot, Caps are in need of maximum points after dropping four in goalless draws against Bantu Rovers and How Mine — the last one which ended with frustrated fans throwing missiles on the field of play.
While club owner Twine Phiri has done all his best under the prevailing circumstances, threats to walk away from the game could unsettle the Green Machine ship at Rimuka. Coach Taurai Mangwiro has to try and ensure that his players remain focused on the job at hand.
There will be good prize money at the end of the season if they win the league title (or even just a top-four finish) or the Mbada Diamonds Cup that will solve crippling financial problems that the club, like all others, is facing.
By the end of today, Caps could be sitting pretty in second spot with 42 points, just a point away from Dynamos, if they can treat the rhino to some green vegetables!
Attention will then shift to Rufaro and Hartsfield tomorrow.
Dynamos have not beaten Shabanie in their last four meetings, but this being the business end of the season and the asbestos miners at the wrong foot of the table, they are unlikely to find any mercy from a team that is chasing a fourth successive title.
The two teams played two draws in the league last season before Shabanie booted Dynamos out of the BancABC Sup8r while this year, their first league meeting ended with no goals.
Shabanie Mine coach Jairos Tapera told our sister paper Southern Eye that their survival prospects depend on results elsewhere.
“It is so difficult to say anything about relegation because we have to see how other teams fare. We have to rely on their performances that if they do badly we would have to do well. We are in a competition and we would have to continue working hard,” he said.
“We have been playing well and in football anything can happen. We respect Dynamos as a team but that will not hinder us from performing well. As a team that is in the relegation zone we will be taking each game as it comes. We have six more matches left after this,” he said.
Dynamos team manager Richard Chihoro chose to be diplomatic when speaking about the championship race.
“We still have about seven games to go before the end of the league and at the moment we cannot speak of the championship race. We are going to take every game as it comes,” he said. “In the PSL there is no small team. The match will not be a walkover and we are expecting a tough match,” he told Southern Eye on Thursday.
Coach Kalisto Pasuwa will take charge of his last match tomorrow before leaving for Cairo, Egypt, for a review meeting of the 2014 Fifa World Cup and would also miss the Warriors’ friendly against Botswana on Tuesday.
Under-fire Kelvin Kaindu has had an unforgettable September, on and off the field of play, and if he can conjure up something to please UMthwakazi tomorrow, the better for his future at the Bulawayo giants.
A loss to Dynamos, suspension to Njabulo Ncube, a loss to Harare City and a rift in his technical team which culminated in another meeting yesterday, are not the best ingredients for a coach chasing his first ever league title in three years. But how the players respond tomorrow afternoon is another issue. Do they have the pride in wearing the black and white or this is just another ordinary jersey to them?
ZPC Kariba does not come easy. They are on 41 points, safe from relegation, and so why not go for the jugular?
While ZPC, Highlanders and Caps United chase Dynamos, they should also be aware that Hwange (37 points) are waiting to pounce.
The coalminers face Bantu Rovers on Monday and with the Bulawayo’s side current form, Nation Dube’s charges are assured of maximum points and that will take them to 40, and third spot if both Bosso and the Green Machine falter.