NGEZI Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya has picked Dynamos as the favourites to win the 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title as he tries to deflect pressure from his team who are at the top of the log, looking the strongest contenders.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Mhondoro-Ngezi team face Caps United at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow, in the big headliner of this weekend’s fixtures. A win for the log leaders will see them maintain their position as well as strengthen their chances of winning their first league title.
Any other result, and they could be overtaken by second-placed Chicken Inn who could be top of the standings by the time Ngezi and Caps kick off their match.
Chicken Inn play a struggling Black Rhinos at Rufaro this afternoon.
Ndiraya says, while his team have been brilliant this far, with many already tipping them to go all the way, he feels his former club Dynamos are the favourites for the title.
After it was suggested to him that the match against Caps pits the champions and the favourites, Ndiraya responded: “We are on top of the log, and that is the reality. But that can change anytime. There are lot of games still to play.
“We can’t start to count the chicks before they are hatched. That we have been on top for the better part of the season, makes us a very good and strong team. It shows that we can compete with the big boys. Our performance so far has given us, the supporters and the whole system which supports us some hope. We hope to turn that into something tangible,” he said.
“We are on top, but definitely not favourites. Looking at the log standings, I think Dynamos are the favourites to win it. They have always been. They are in a strong position, because they have games in hand and if they can win them, then they go top of the log. They have the experience; they know what to do and once they get to the top, it would be very difficult for all the other teams to remove them. But it’s still a long way to go; a team that is going to be consistent will win it.”
Ahead of the blockbuster clash, Ndiraya has good news in his camp as he welcomes back into the team Donald Teguru, the team’s poster boy, who has recovered, while Terrance Dzvukamanja, who hobbled off the pitch in their last league match before the Heroes break, a 4-1 win over Yadah FC, is also back with the team.
James Ngulube has also returned to Ngezi, following an unsuccessful loan stint at Caps United and their availability gives Ndiraya more options in his already fearsome strike force which also has Clive Augusto and the rejuvenated Tichaona Mabvura.
“We have all the players back at training, so we are spoilt for choice. Teguru is back after missing our last five or so matches and Dzvukamanja gave us a scare in the match against Yadah. We had to substitute him, but the Heroes break gave him time to recover so he is available.
“That gives us a good pool of players to choose from considering the magnitude of the game we are playing. We are playing the champions and it’s not going to be an easy match.
They have had a rough road of late, but they have picked up and collected some points in their last three matches. They have a very good coach (Lloyd Chitembwe) who has done really well, and a quality squad that did themselves and the nation proud by that good run in the Champions League. But we also played in Africa, participating at the same level and gained the experience that has taken us this far. It is a game of two teams who are doing well so I’m expecting a tightly-contested game.”
The champions are going into the match on a back of a decent run after picking seven points from their last three matches. A rift between Chitembwe and star player Ronald Pfumbidzai has been resolved amicably. Ngezi on the other hand, are on a roll, winning their last four matches, and scoring a staggering 14 goals.
Fixtures (kick-off is 3pm unless stated)
Today: Yadah v Chapungu (Rufaro, 1pm), Black Rhinos v Chicken Inn (Rufaro), Bulawayo City v Harare City (Barbourfields), How Mine v Dynamos (postponed).
Tomorrow: Caps United v Ngezi Platinum (Rufaro), Hwange v Bantu Rovers (Colliery), Triangle v FC Platinum (Gibbo), Shabanie Mine v ZPC Kariba (Maglas), Highlanders v Tsholotsho (postponed)