HARARE City coach, Philani Ncube has described their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against log leaders FC Platinum at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon, as a matter of life and death.
BY HENRY MHARA
Ncube has admitted his relegation-threatened side are desperate to pick as many points as possible in their bid for survival and winning today’s match is crucial to achieve that objective.
City are on 34 points, just three points ahead of Shabanie Mine, a team occupying the relegation cut-off point, and a defeat to the team, who are equally desperate to win for a totally differrent objective, could be catastrophic.
“For us, this match is a matter life and death. FC Platinum are gunning for the league so they also want to win, so it’s like a cup final or even more,” Ncube said.
The hosts are banking on their home form recently, where they won six and drawn one in their last seven matches.
“We have done well at home. We are very comfortable here, not under any pressure and the confidence is very high. We always take the lead in matches at home and the only time we went behind to chase a game here was against Caps United, where we won in the last seconds. If we can score first, then our confidence rises and it’s difficult for the opposition to come back. FC Platinum are a good side, who play well, they have been chasing the championship for the past three seasons so it’s not going to be an easy game, but we are ready for them.”
Besides FC Platinum, City are still to play Triangle, How Mine, Black Rhinos and Hwange.
“All the remaining five games are winnable if we can put our act together. We are not in a good position now and we have to be at our best from tomorrow (today) going forward to be able to pull through.”
They will go into today’s match without fullbacks Takudzwa Chimwemwe and Pritchard Mphelele, who are out injured, while William Manondo is suspended.
But the good news is that young striker Jerry Chipangura, who has been a long-term injury casualty, and Malvern Gaki, have both been passed fit and will be involved today.
FC Platinum arrive in Harare with their tails high following their win over Shabanie Mine that saw them assuming top position on the log standings.
A win here will see them opening a four-point lead, at least for 24 hours, as rivals in the title race Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum will play tomorrow, with the two sides clashing at Baobab Stadium.
Aware of the pressure of being top of the table at this stage of the season, FC Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza has demanded mental strength from his players, as they seek to win all their remaining matches and be guaranteed of being crowned champions.
Harare City won this fixture 2-1 last season at exactly this stage of the season, with five matches left, a result that put paid to FC Platinum’s chances of winning the title.
They eventually finished second to Caps United, missing by just two points. In the reverse fixture at Mandava Stadium this season, the match ended goalless.