NGEZI Platinum Stars and Highlanders’ impressive starts to the season have made the two teams’ many people’s favourites to win the title this season.
BY HENRY MHARA
They are the only remaining unbeaten sides in the league this season after seven matches. Their records are on the line this afternoon when the two sides clash at Baobab Stadium in the top of the log clash, with the winner laying down a marker in the race for the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.
Tonderai Ndiraya-coached side Ngezi Platinum Stars, have looked solid and the more impressive of the two, though, this far.
The Mhondoro Ngezi-based side, who have publicly stated their desire to win the main prize in only their third year in the top flight, have flown out of the blocks, recording six wins and one draw.
Another win today, will see them open a five-point gap against their main challenger. And with third-placed FC Platinum away to Mutare City, a win would do them a world of wonders.
“It’s going to be an interesting match. The two teams play good football, so this should be a very entraining game,” Ngezi assistant coach Gift Muzadzi predicted.
“Highlanders have started the season well, just like us and will be out to protect their unbeaten run, something that we are also looking to do. It’s early into the season, but this match is one of the most important games of the season, for both teams. We anticipate a tough match, but we have done well at our home and we hope to carry on with that good form,” he added.
That form is built on a solid defence, with only two goals conceded this season. At the other end, their strikers have been doing a similar good job, scoring 10 goals, spread over more than five scorers.
If Ngezi’s form looks intimidating, then Highlanders’ is equally impressive. Bosso have won five matches and drawn two. They have scored 11 goals, and conceded four.
It’s an extraordinary performance by Madinda Ndlovu’s youngsters, who have taken the league by storm despite initial fears that they would struggle.
Muzadzi, though, has warned the Bosso “ECD” as they are called by their followers, not to expect to be treated with kid gloves when they visit this afternoon.
“They won’t get any special treatment. As long as they play in the premier league, they are seniors and we will treat them as such.”
Ngezi dropped two points in their last two matches, a battling 1-1 draw away to Shabanie and scored late to secure a 2-1 home win against Mutare City, with their performance in those games attracting some criticism.
“We are not worried. What is more important is that we managed to get a result. People shouldn’t expect us to play the same way in each and every match. We can’t travel on 200km/hr from start to the end. There is a point along the way that we are going to reduce the speed. These players are human beings, and they will be fatigued at some stage.
“People should also realise that playing these so called small teams is difficult. They are small teams in names, but not in their application. Playing big teams is easier because players will naturally raise their game.”
Ngezi midfielder Michael Charamba is doubtful for the match after picking a knock. He will have to pass a late fitness test.