CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars have a chance to open a five-point gap at the top with a victory over former champions Chicken Inn at Baobab Stadium this afternoon.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Mhondoro-based side remain the only team with a perfect record so far this season, with four wins from four matches, but they have a chance to lay down a marker with success over one of the title challengers.
Victory today and they are at an arm’s length from nearest challenger FC Platinum and Highlanders, who will only play 24 hours later.
A defeat though, which would be their first at Baobab since 2016, could see them plummeting to fifth by the end of the weekend games.
Stars coach, Tonderai Ndiraya has targeted maximum 15 points in the opening five matches, and his early season target is once again coming under serious test.
“We are very much prepared. We have had a gruelling Easter programme, which took a lot of energy out of our players. I’m glad that we managed to collect maximum points in those matches, and that has kept us top of the log. But we are facing a Chicken Inn side that are very difficult. They are former champions, and are coached by Joey Antipas. They have a lot of experience within their ranks. That makes them very dangerous,” he said.
During the Easter holidays fixture programme, Ngezi played Nichrut in Gweru and hosted Dynamos.
“We have had a good home run in the past, and we hope to continue with that good run. We have the arsenal and the players are beginning to believe. We expect an interesting and exciting match. Chicken Inn are a very good side, but we are also good in our own right, considering the way we have started the season. I don’t see us under pressure going into this game. We expect the good run to continue, and the unbeaten home record to stand,” Ndiraya said.
Apart from Qadr Amini, who has been ruled out of the season with a long term injury, Ndiraya should have all his players available for the match, with Godknows Murwira, who was involved in a freak accident on Monday after their match against Nichrut, expected to pass a late fitness test.
Chicken Inn arrive in Mhondoro high in confidence following their 3-0 win over Shabanie Mine on Easter Monday, a result that saw them moving joint second on the log standings with FC Platinum and Highlanders. The teams have 10 points, and will be hoping to make a little piece of history by becoming the first team to stop Ngezi at home. Antipas told the media this week that they will approach the game cautiously without any special treatment for the opponents.
“We have no special preparations as such, but we just have to go there and fight. We have to go there and have that same mentality like any other day. We are fully aware, of course, that they are on top of the table and have maximum points and are tipped to win the league,” said Antipas.