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Caps’ influence in title matrix

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Sitting 21 points behind log leaders Chicken Inn, even though having played five games less, it looks unlikely that Caps United will be able to retain the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title, but their last two results suggest they could have a big say on who wins it in the end.

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

Kingmakers

The Green Machine beat FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum on Wednesday and Sunday, respectively, much to the delight of both Dynamos and Chicken Inn, who are in the title matrix.

Caps had a slow start in the league title race and looked like a team that would plunge into an irretrievable nosedive as they uncharacteristically remained stuck in the relegation zone.

While FC Platinum and Chicken Inn were engaged in their own battles against Triangle and Black Rhinos at the weekend, the Caps United-Ngezi match interested them a lot as it did to Dynamos, who were idle themselves.

With a backlog necessitated by their participation in the African Champions League campaign, few expected Lloyd Chitembwe’s men to turn around things the way they have done thus far.

In the last four matches they have collected 10 points out of a possible 12, which saw them despatching title challengers FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum.

The platinum miners have been changing leadership positions since the start of the campaign, but both teams came unstuck against the Harare giants with FC Platinum being handed a 2-1 defeat, while on Sunday Ngezi were thrashed 3-0.

Despite having hit a purple patch, the Green Machine still have a lot of work to do if they are to win the championship and they will need the top four to drop points if they are to have any hope.

While they might not win the championship this term, it is certain Caps will have a huge influence on the outcome of the race having already defeated two of the teams vying for the ultimate prize of domestic football.

With Dynamos having benefitted from Caps’ last two results, they know that the Green Machine are a problem they will have to negotiate past if they are to strengthen their case for the title.

The two have an outstanding match that will be rescheduled, but they face each other in week 24, while Caps still have to travel to Mandava to face FC Platinum in week 27.

Chicken Inn are also not yet done with Caps as they still have to travel to Harare having won the first match 3-1.

Having already thrown spanners in the works after stopping both FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum, their form suggests potential to further frustrate the other title-chasing teams.

Whatever they are doing, they are doing it for themselves and they maintain hope, however slim, that they can defend the title.

However, Caps assistant coach Fungai “Tostao” Kwashi on Sunday appeared to suggest they could still retain the championship.

“It was a big win, fantastic performance and it was a good message out to everyone. We have gone through a rough patch, but we are running our own race and have set targets for ourselves,” he said.

Dominic Chungwa emerged the hero in that encounter after scoring his first brace for Caps, with John Zhuwawo weighing in with the other goal to seal victory for the Harare giants.

The victory against Ngezi Platinum Stars — one of the high-scoring teams in the Premiership — was Caps’ biggest in the campaign.

Tomorrow, the Green Machine clash against plucky Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium hoping to maintain their top form and claw up the ladder once again.

Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Fixtures

Tomorrow: Caps United v Black Rhinos (NSS), Highlanders v Tsholotsho (Barbourfields).

Thursday: How Mine v Dynamos (Barbourfields)

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