Chicken Inn to maintain lead ahead of PSL break

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A WEEK before the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League goes on a two-week break, Match Day 13 is serving mouthwatering ties that will leave Chicken Inn still at the top of the standings irrespective of results elsewhere.

BY WELLINGTON TONI

Joey Antipas’ men lead the standings with 26 points and travel to Ascot Stadium for a date with fifth-placed Chapungu (21 points), and even if they lose and Dynamos — who are away to ZPC Kariba win — they will still remain on top.

Dynamos are second with 22 points after two draws in their last two matches against Tsholotsho and Triangle and certainly, this is the right time for under-pressure coach David Mandigora to get out of the hot Rufaro and National Sports Stadium kitchens.

Two other teams are on 21 points — former leaders Triangle (third place) and How Mine (fourth) and don’t have a chance to overhaul the Gamecocks.

With eight wins, two draws and two losses in 12 matches, the Gamecocks have been going about their business in quiet fashion, not raising their hopes of a first league title, but certainly doing enough to keep them in the big picture.

Chapungu had a rocky start, but recovered well to string six wins, two draws and a loss, enough to move them off the relegation zone and, perhaps, enough to stop their Gamecocks this afternoon, having won the last encounter between the two 3-1.

At Nyamhunga, ZPC did not have a warm welcome when they played their first game there two weeks back.

They were humiliated 3-0 by FC Platinum and have not recovered since, losing 2-1 to How Mine last weekend in Bulawayo despite taking an early lead. The electricity men, who finished second last season, are in 10th place with just three wins, five draws and four losses and have no permanent coach.

They dispensed with Saul Chaminuka and replaced him in the interim with Oliver Matava, but the results have not been coming. They have been linked with Mark Harrison, but the Briton is now settled at Caps United, and Sunday Chidzambwa, but they have denied that move.

Going into their second home match against Dynamos is no easy task. Dynamos might be ailing with two draws in a row, but they have been known to grind results the hard way.

Stephen Alimenda and Sydney Linyama are suspended after accumulating three yellow cards while Masimba Mambare and Artwell Mukandi are injured for Dynamos, but they should still find enough ammunition to score their first win over ZPC.

Last season, ZPC beat Dynamos 1-0 and 2-1, both matches having been played in Harare.

At Barbourfields tomorrow, Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu has called on the teams’ fans to show some love.

“I would like to make an appeal to Highlanders supporters to continue supporting the boys the way they did at Platinum,” he said. “I know we are all worried about the lack of flair in our play, but we also feel that if we get our 12th man standing by, we are going to turn Barbourfields into a fortress that no one should breach,” he said on Thursday.

At the Colliery, Platinum will be looking to maintain their upward trend when they take on Hwange, with only two wins this season and seven draws.

Platinum (17 points, eighth place) have not found it difficult to win at the Colliery since 2011 and will move to 20 points if they come up with maximum points and keep their place in the top half of the league.

With players like Wisdom Mutasa back from Young Warriors duty, Aaron Katebe back from Zambia’s Cosafa duty and Donald Ngoma in hot form, this is a game not to miss.

In other matches, Triangle return home to face Tsholotsho, Caps United host Flame Lily at the National Sports Stadium, Dongo Sawmill will be seeking only their second win of the season against Harare City at Vengere while Buffaloes host WhaWha at Sakubva.