SIMBA Bhora coach Tonderai Ndiraya believes this season's relegation battle could be one of the tightest in years and predicts that the PSL championship race will be decided on the final day of the season.
At least nine teams are embroiled in the relegation royal rumble with four matches remaining in the season.
Ndiraya's men eased relegation worries at the weekend when they beat Herentals 1-0 at Baobab Stadium, courtesy of a fine Tymon Machope second half strike.
The victory moved them into the top half of the table on ninth position, with 39 points.
Despite the big victory, the Shamva-based team is not yet out of the woods, according to Ndiraya, who feels their premiership status is still under threat.
While 37 points would normally have been the threshold to stay in the premier league in recent times, the former Dynamos coach believes teams might need as much as 40 points this term to guarantee their safety.
“The battle for survival is very tight and it might go all the way to the last day,” Ndiraya reckons. “All the teams from position eight to the bottom are not safe. We are on 39 points, but we are not out of the woods yet.
“We haven't done enough, but we are almost there. We need another point to be safe. With 40 points, we should be assured of survival but we don't want to stop there. We want to fight and keep pushing up the ladder. If we finish in the top half on the log, I will be very happy.”
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Bottom-placed Cranborne Bullets and their army cousins Black Rhinos who sit second from the basement are sure candidates for relegation. With four teams set to be relegated at the end of the season, several teams above them are increasingly looking over their shoulders.
Cranborne Bullets have been poor this far and are odds on favourites to be confirmed the first team to go down, and that could happen this week. Their form in the run-in has been horrible, and the weekend 1-0 victory over Triangle on Saturday was the club's second win in the last 12 games, taking their points tally to a mere 26 points from 30 matches.
Black Rhinos look equally doomed, and while appointing Saul Chaminuka as head coach has managed to stabilise the ship as the team is becoming hard to beat, their lack of a killer instinct in matches that they dominate is concerning.
On Saturday against Dynamos, they created a handful of chances but could only manage a point in a goalless draw, leaving Chaminuka deeply frustrated.
“We are playing well in terms of getting into good areas and creating opportunities. It is the issue of putting away those opportunities that remains our problem. It is not just this game (against Dynamos) that we have failed to make use of our chances. I can count probably up to 10 matches where we played well, dominated the game but came out empty handed. If we are to survive, maybe we will survive on the last day and that is very possible, we need to score goals. I still have hope that we can do it. I have that feeling that we will survive,” Chaminuka said.
Rhinos have 29 points and just like Bullets, they need to win all their remaining matches to stand a chance of surviving.
Triangle, after the defeat to Bullets and ZPC Kariba, who were clobbered 6-0 by fellow relegation strugglers Yadah, complete the list of the four teams in the relegation zone. Triangle have 31 points, two behind ZPC Kariba ahead of this week's midweek fixtures.
Although the current bottom four teams look the most likely to drop to Division One come the end of the season, any of the six above them are still in danger of the dreaded guillotine.
Yadah moved out of the relegation zone, thanks to their massive win on Sunday. They have 34 points, the same with Sheasham who also recorded a big 2-0 win over Manica Diamonds on Saturday.
Bulawayo Chiefs who appeared safe a few weeks ago, are becoming increasingly pensive after the defeat to Green Fuel which left them on 12th position with 36 points.
Green Fuel and Caps United have 38 points each and might need one more victory each to be sure.
At 39 points, Simba also need a point more to be certain, while Hwange who shocked log leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars 1-0 to move to 40 points, could have done enough to secure their safety this season.