The title race between FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars that for long threatened to go to the wire could finally be settled tomorrow afternoon if the former win their midweek clash with Chicken Inn, coupled with a defeat for the Mhondoro-Ngezi-based side.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
For a while, the two platinum miners swapped the top position, but the Zvisavane-based side seem to have taken a firm grip after Ngezi Platinum Stars ran out of steam.
With only four matches left before the curtain comes down on the 2018 soccer season, FC Platinum are enjoying the top spot with a healthy points difference of seven.
Norman Mapeza’s men edged relegation threatened Nichrut at the weekend to take their points tally to 68 from 30 matches.
And with Ngezi Platinum stuttering to a 0-0 draw against lowly Chapungu who are also battling relegation, FC Platinum’s chances brightly blossomed and the reigning champions inched closer to yet more glory.
The defending champions will now be praying fervently that they win against Chicken Inn and Ngezi Platinum fall to Harare City to successfully defend their title with three games to spare.
A win for Mapeza’s side would take their points tally to 71 and if Ngezi Platinum lose in the process, the former would open a 10-point gap with just nine points left to play for.
The Mhondoro-based side parted ways with their coach Tonderai Ndiraya, whom they replaced with his assistant Clifton Kadurira, who got off to a poor start at home when his side were held by Chapungu. It remains to be seen whether Kadurira will be able to withstand the threat posed by the Sunshine City Boys who are one of the best attacking teams in the league and are usually difficult to breakdown at Rufaro.
Coached by Briton Mark Harrison and his assistant Mark Mathe, Harare City have only lost once at home this season to Bulawayo giants Highlanders who edged them 2-1 in June. They also beat FC Platinum 1-0 at Rufaro, but fell 3-1 at Mandava.
The Sunshine City Boys will be looking to end the season on a high with a top four finish a possibility. They are currently in fifth place with 45 points, three behind fourth-placed Triangle and are aware a victory will see them climb the ladder.
FC Platinum are buoyed by the fact that they beat Chicken Inn 2-0 in Bulawayo in the reverse fixture and will be looking to complete a double at home where they rarely lose, with only ZPC Kariba having managed to snatch a victory at their fortress at Mandava.
Should FC Platinum win the championship, they will join an exclusive club of teams that have managed to win back-to-back championships.
Only the Big Three — Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders — have managed to successfully defend their championships in the modern era of the Premier Soccer League.
Tomorrow: Harare City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Rufaro), FC Platinum v Chicken Inn (Mandava), Bulawayo Chiefs v Shabanie (Luveve), Caps United v Yadah (NSS), Triangle v Mutare City Rovers (Gibbo).
Thursday: Herentals v Dynamos (Rufaro), Black Rhinos v Nichrut (NSS), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot), Bulawayo City v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields)ly be settled tomorrow afternoon if the former win their midweek clash with Chicken Inn, coupled with a defeat for the Mhondoro-Ngezi-based side.