Judgment day at the bottom

THE 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season comes to an end this evening, with either FC Platinum or Dynamos set to be crowned champions.

BY HENRY MHARA

But while there will be celebrations at either Ascot Stadium, where log leaders FC Platinum date Chapungu, or at the National Sports Stadium, where Dynamos host Chicken Inn, there will certainly be despair for two of these teams — Harare City, Bulawayo City and Hwange.

With basement side Bantu Rovers and Tsholotsho’s relegation confirmed, two more teams will join them by the end of the final round of fixtures today.

The team that appears most doomed is Harare City, who occupy third position from the bottom following their 2-0 defeat in a six-pointer contest away to Hwange last weekend.

From a position of seeming security a week ago, City are now flirting with finishing the day out of the top-flight after winning just one of their last seven league games.

Four points from a possible 21 is a poor return for the well-resourced side and if they lose today, they will be relegated.

Their only win since the start of October came in the 5-0 hammering of Bantu Rovers, which followed a 2-1 loss to Dynamos.

Since then, City have gone into an inexplicable slump, picking just one point in the goalless draw against FC Platinum, while losing to Chicken Inn, Triangle, Black Rhinos and Hwange in a row.

The disappointing run has left them in the relegation zone, where even if they beat How Mine today, it might not be enough to save them from relegation.

They have to win their match, and hope that Bulawayo City or Hwange lose their respective matches.
What makes Harare City’s situation even more complex is that Bulawayo City and Hwange’s opponents have nothing to play for, other than pride.

Bulawayo City face an already relegated Bantu Rovers, and few will bet against the former to take all the three points in this one.

The two teams are both based in Bulawayo.

Then for Hwange, they are away to ZPC Kariba’s Nyamhunga Stadium today, and while this venue has proved to be a tough place to go for visitors, the hosts have no motivation to win the match.

A draw for Hwange could be enough if the other results go their way, but they will want to win the match to be certain.

“We are playing for our survival and we have to survive. There are no two ways about that. The difficult part for us is that we are facing a team that is playing for nothing,” said Hwange coach Bigboy Mawiwi, who was installed midway through the season to save the team.

“They don’t have any pressure to win, so their players will be relaxed and, therefore, express themselves better. We have prepared well. I know we are under pressure to deliver, but the boys are calm and ready.”

Bottom six

13 Shabanie 39
14 Hwange 37
15 Bulawayo City 36
16 Harare City 35
17 Tsholotsho 24 R
18 Bantu Rovers 16 R

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