BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
TABLE-toppers Caps United, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum face a tough run-in as the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League race hurtles towards the end.
Three rounds of matches are left before the end of the season, but the three clubs are neck-to-neck in the battle for dominance of domestic football with Caps leading the pack with 55 points, two ahead of Chicken Inn and FC Platinum who are separated only by a goal difference.
Although Caps and FC Platinum have difficult assignments in their remaining three matches of the campaign, it is Chicken Inn who appear to be facing the biggest hurdle in their bid to win the championship again after lifting it four years ago.
The GameCocks, under the guidance of Joey Antipas, the coach who guided them to their last championship, has perhaps the toughest run-in as they face teams that are fighting for their life in their remaining three matches.
They have since awaken to the reality of playing against a team fighting for dear life after stuttering to a 1-1 draw against 16th-placed Hwange on Saturday.
Up next for them is 15th-placed Bulawayo Chiefs in a city derby. Before their 1-0 defeat to Manica Diamonds at the weekend, a result that reduced their chances of survival considerably, Bulawayo Chiefs had not lost a match in their last three games.
The Twitter Boys will be looking to secure maximum points against the title chasers as they fight to stay afloat.
Apart from Bulawayo Chiefs, Chicken Inn will also travel to Harare to face another relegation candidate, Herentals. The Students, as they are affectionately known, are still battling for survival on fifth position from the bottom with 35 points. They desperately need a victory to be sure of safety.
The Bulawayo side will wind off their league programme with a home clash against TelOne who are also fighting for dear life. TelOne under the guidance of former Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo have 36 points, and are just a point above Bulawayo Chiefs, a team sitting on the relegation cut-off point.
For Caps, they too have what appears to be another tough run-in.
The Green Machine, who allowed Yadah to come from two goals down to be held 2-2, face off city rivals Dynamos in their next assignment.
This big clash has a potential on deciding the destiny of the championship this term.
After the Harare derby, Caps travel to Baobab to face Ngezi Platinum, who have vastly improved since Rodwell Dhlakama took over and are in sixth place on the league table – just a rung below Dynamos although they have the same number of points at 44.
They will then round off the campaign with a home clash against defending champions FC Platinum.
The fixtures list appears to be kind to FC Platinum who are away to Chapungu next before hosting Black Rhinos, two teams that have really nothing to play for, besides bragging rights.
The champions will then wrap up their campaign with a clash against current league leaders. This match threatens to be the title decider.