FC Platinum are on course to make history in domestic football, as the first team outside the traditional Big Three to successfully defend the league championship.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
No other team except Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders have managed to win back-to-back championships in the history of the domestic game.
The last time Dynamos defended their league title was in 2014 under Kalisto Pasuwa.
Caps United managed the same feat in 2005 under Charles Mhlauri, while Highlanders did it in 2000 and 2001 under the late British coach, Eddie May.
But as the league programme staggers towards the second half of the season, defending champions FC Platinum, have already provided a convincing case of their title credentials.
Norman Mapeza’s men have lost just once a shock 2-0 defeat to Bulawayo Chiefs, and are only a point behind log leaders Ngezi Platinum who have 26 points from 10 matches.
They have won nine and drawn one and with Mapeza, who missed some matches at the start of the campaign having recovered after undergoing back surgery, now back in the dressing room, it has raised the optimism among their supporters.
Although it appears it may be a fight between the two Platinum miners this season, FC Platinum have the experience of what it is to win the championship, which then rivals Ngezi, who surprisingly ran out of steam towards the end of last season do not have that experience when it had initially looked like they would be run away victors.
Occupying third position with 20 points and just two defeats Bulawayo giants Highlanders are also laying claim to the title. Chicken Inn and Triangle with 19 points each remain dark horses.
Caps United too have a strong belief they can lay their hands on it. The Harare giants have not had the best start, but are hanging in there on seventh position with 16 points having only been beaten twice by Triangle and Chicken Inn.
However, considering that Mapeza is simply building from last season, FC Platinum appear to be the team to beat this season.
Mapeza made history last season when he led the Zvishavane outfit to their maiden championship, becoming the second coach to achieve that feat with a team from outside Harare or Bulawayo in half a century.
The last time a team from outside Harare or Bulawayo lifted the ultimate prize of domestic football was way back in 1966 when the now-defunct ST Paul’s FC, then based in Musami, Murewa, some 80km north-east of Harare, won it under the guidance of Antony Edward Davies.
Since then, teams from outside the two biggest cities had been struggling to break the Harare, Bulawayo hegemony.