With just five matches left before the end of the campaign, a dog fight has intensified at the bottom of the Castle Lager Premiership table, with at least eight teams entangled in a battle for survival.
BY HENRY MHARA/TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Of the eight, bottom placed Shabanie Mine, Bulawayo City and Mutare City’s fate is seemingly sealed as they need to win all their remaining matches, and hope that the other five lose theirs, something highly impossible.
That leaves giants Dynamos, Chapungu, Nichrut, Bulawayo Chiefs and Yadah, currently sitting on the relegation cut-off points, fighting to avoid the last relegation slot.
Dynamos did themselves a huge favour by beating rivals Caps United at the weekend, a victory that saw them leap out of the relegation zone.
The victory was huge and important for DeMbare in that they are now in control of their destiny.
Veteran striker Kingston Nkhatha and Valentine Kadonzvo, who both came in as second half substitutes, rescued the three points after Joel Ngodzo had given Caps United a first half lead.
The Harare giants are now on 11th position — with 34 points — two clear of relegation and three more victories in their remaining five matches should do for them.
Dynamos’ defining run includes tricky encounters against Black Rhinos this weekend, Herentals (away), Triangle (home), Mutare City (away) before winding off the campaign with a tough road trip to Nichrut.
It is Chapungu though, whose remaining games look the more daunting, on paper that is, as they are away to title chasing Ngezi Platinum next, followed by a home game against Highlanders.
They then make a tough trip to ZPC Kariba before hosting Yadah in what should be a relegation six pointer match.
They then travel to Caps United to conclude their campaign. It’s a tall order for Rodwell Dhlakama and his men.
The Airforce side have 33 points and are a rung below Dynamos, and if they can win three of those matches, it will be enough to survive relegation.
Of all the teams embroiled in the relegation dogfight, it is promoted Nichrut, a rung below with 32 points, who are the form team.
They have collected eight points from a possible 15, with only one defeat in the last five matches.
If they can keep or improve that recent form, then they should pull through.
It would be tough though, with a home match away to champions and title chasing FC Platinum on the horizon.
Their fixture list also includes Black Rhinos in Harare, Herentals at home and a trip to Gibbo Stadium to face Triangle. The Shurugwi gold miners then end the campaign with a difficult assignment at home against Dynamos.
A few weeks ago, Bulawayo Chiefs looked like they were safe from the relegation. But they have not won a match in the last five games, and suddenly they are looking above their shoulders and in real danger of relegation.
Chiefs’ remaining matches are against Chicken Inn, Shabanie Mine, Ngezi Platinum, Highlanders and ZPC Kariba.
Yadah, occupying the last relegation slot with 32 points, also have all to do in the remaining fixtures of the campaign. They travel to Mutare City next and then face off with Caps United before hosting Bulawayo City. They travel to Chapungu before finishing off their campaign with a home tie against Harare City.
With three of the remaining five fixtures against teams in the relegation zone, Yadah’s destiny is firmly in their hands. Win those three and avoid defeats in the other two, and they should be safe.