TWO DOWN, and two more to follow. As many as six teams are involved. That is the story of this year’s relegation battle, a fight which will go to the last round matches of the season.
BY HENRY MHARA
Mushowani were the first to go. They return to Division One after just one season. And indications are that the team will actually fold at the end of the season because of financial problems.
And on Wednesday, Hwange were also confirmed relegated after their 1-1 draw with TelOne. They are also making a quick return to the second tier division having regained promotion into the top-flight league last year.
Two more teams will drop to the unfashionable Division One League by the end of league matches tomorrow. Yadah and Herentals are the two teams currently occupying the other relegation slots, but both could survive the chop if they win their matches at the weekend. That is if other results favour them.
Bulawayo Chiefs, with 41 points, TelOne (40 points), Harare City (40 points), and Chapungu who are on 39 points, are the other teams that are in danger of being relegated.
Yadah, on 38 points, have what on paper appears an easy last fixture as they face an already relegated Mushowani Stars, who have nothing other than pride to play for.
They hit top form in the last few weeks as they bid to stage a miracle escape, winning four of their last five matches and drawing the other.
But beating Mushowani alone might not be enough for Yadah to survive the chop. They will need to win resoundingly to cover up for a goal difference of minus 13.
Herentals also has 38 points and face fellow relegation-threatened Bulawayo Chiefs. Herentals will need an outright win to have a chance, while Chiefs, another team in top form of late, has 41 points and needs just a draw to escape the guillotine.
Chapungu looked safe a few weeks ago, but a run of four losses in five matches, have seen them dropping to a point above Herentals. They face Highlanders in their last match, a side which is desperate to win the match to finish in the top four.
Harare City are in the same predicament as Chapungu.
They are facing a Ngezi Platinum Stars side which wants to finish the season in the top four.
Reports suggest that interim coach Rodwell Dhlakama has been given the target to finish the season in the top four to get the post permanently.
The reports might be true based on how his side performed in their match against Caps on Wednesday, when they beat the title aspirants.
TelOne are undefeated in the last five matches, but are still in danger of getting relegated. They face a Chicken Inn side which wants to win and finish the season on number two. A draw for TelOne could be enough.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League week 34 fixtures
Tomorrow: Caps United v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium), Chicken Inn v TelOne (Barbourfields), Triangle v Dynamos (Gibbo), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot), Mushowani Stars v Yadah (Trojan), Hwange v ZPC Kariba (Colliery), Harare City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Rufaro), Bulawayo Chiefs v Herentals (Luveve).
Sunday: Black Rhinos v Manica Diamonds (National Sports Stadium)