THE Caps United versus Highlanders match is one of Zimbabwe’s top grade fixtures, but this time the contest has been watered down by their dissipated interest in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title race.
BY HENRY MHARA
The clash has over the years produced enthralling entertainment, but as the two face off in a rescheduled fixture at the National Sports Stadium this evening, it has become a second grade meaningless mid-table clash.
Caps United, champions last term, are in fifth position on the log standings with 46 points and, while they are still mathematically in the title race, they will need to win all their remaining matches and all the other teams above them to lose theirs.
The Green Machine’s below-average performance in their title defence has been blamed on their taxing involvement in the Caf Champions League, where they reached the competition’s group stages.
As for Highlanders, they are out of the title race, on 40 points, and even if they win all their remaining matches, they can only reach a maximum of 58 points, one short of log leaders FC Platinum, who are already on 59 points.
But there is still plenty to play for, for both teams, who are pushing for a strong finish.
A win would mean a lot for Highlanders coach, Erol Akbay, who is job-hunting after publicly stating that he will leave his post at the end of the season.
For Caps United coach, Lloyd Chitembwe, he would want to finish with a flourish and try to set the tempo for next season.
United captain, Hardlife Zvirekwi admitted that it was disappointing that two of the biggest clubs are battling for crumbs.
“It’s sad and disappointing at the same time, but that is football. It happens the world over and it is how we will recover from this, which is important. Having said that, it’s a big match and we expect it to be very competitive. We might be out of the title race, but we have to remain professional and play for the badge. There is still pride to play for,” Zvirekwi said.
“As Caps United, we want to finish the league on a high and in the best possible position on the log. We will do our best to try and win all our remaining matches.”
Highlanders skipper, Rahman Kutsanzira is hopeful that his men can build on last week’s win over Triangle to kick off a strong finish to their season.
“Preparations for the match have gone on well. We are coming from a win, so the spirits are very high. Very few people are giving us a chance, but we are one of the biggest clubs in the country and we want to prove them wrong. This is one of the big fixtures on the calendar and we expect a good game. We will push hard in the remaining games and try to finish in the top four,” Kutsazira said.
Today: Caps United v Highlanders (National Sports Stadium, 7pm)
Match day 30 fixtures
Tomorrow: Harare City v FC Platinum (Rufaro)
Saturday: Bulawayo City v Chapungu (Barbourfields), Yadah v How Mine (Rufaro), Ngezi Platinum v Dynamos (Baobab, 2pm), ZPC Kariba v Chicken Inn (Nyamhunga)
Sunday: Tsholotsho v Bantu Rovers (Dulivhadzimo), Shabanie Mine v Triangle United (Maglas), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), Caps United v Hwange (National Sports Stadium)