The Sunday Mail
Dynamos ………………………………. 1
Green Fuel …………………………….. 0
FOR a moment, time stood still for Green Fuel head coach Rodwell Dhlakama at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
On one hand, he had just watched his players go down one-nil to Harare giants Dynamos, and the threat of relegation stared him in the face.
The seasoned gaffer — tasked with surviving the chop when he took over at the club in April — seemed to be a man in deep thought.
He held his phone in his hand, and, within the blink of an eye, his face went from despair to joy. Despite going down to Tendaishe Magwaza’s 12th-minute header, Green Fuel survived the chop and will be among the 18 teams in the 2024 Premier Soccer League next season. The respite came courtesy of Yadah’s 2-1 loss to Chicken Inn at Luveve Stadium, which means their 40 points from 33 matches would be enough heading into the final weekend of the 2023 PSL season next weekend.
With five teams still in the relegation matrix — Yadah (37), ZPC Kariba (36), Triangle (35), Black Rhinos (35) and Sheasham (35) — Green Fuel’s 40 points are enough to survive the chop.
“I am happy, to be honest, really happy,” said Dhlakama.
“The main objective, when I took over at Green Fuel, was to keep the team’s premiership status intact, and that meant surviving relegation.
“I took over the team when it was sitting at the bottom of the log, with two points from six games, and to be here is something.”
The match started off with Green Fuel already on the back foot, as they faced a mighty Dynamos eager to secure the second spot. Things got worse as early as the 12th minute when the home side got the early goal.
Magwaza got on the end of an Issa Sadiki corner-kick, heading the ball past a hapless David Bizabani in goal for Green Fuel.
The goal seemed to have sucked the life out of the visitors, as they were forced to chase the game from that moment onwards.
Dynamos, on their part, continued to pile on the pressure, only to let themselves down in the final third.
The Harare giants failed to convert the numerous chances that came their way.
With Dynamos in firm control, Green Fuel failed to make a single shot at goal during the entire first half. However, a pep talk from their coach Dhlakama during the break seemed to light a fire under them.
Their pressure could have paid dividends five minutes after the break, when second-half substitute Xolisani Moyo saw his free header from a set-piece narrowly miss the target.
Green Fuel had a dominant second half, but failed to turn their dominance into goals.
In the end, the match ended one-nil in favour of Dynamos.
“We lacked the hunger; there was no improvisation from the team. The guys did not play with their normal flair but at the end of the day, we have to be happy with surviving,” said Dhlakama. Dynamos stand-in coach Lloyd Chigowe described the win as an important one for his charges as the race to secure second position took a huge step forward.
“I am happy that we got the win; it keeps us in line for our target of finishing second.”
He said his players showed character to collect maximum points, especially since they boycotted training during the past week.
Meanwhile, Black Rhinos enhanced their slim chances of survival with a 3-2 victory over Sheasham at Bata Stadium.
The army side got their goals from Lot Chiwunga, Evans Katema and Valentine Katsande, while Sheasham hit back with strikes from William Stima and Physiwell Madhazi.
PSL Results and fixtures
Black Rhinos 3-2 Sheasham
Chicken Inn 2-1 Yadah
Dynamos 1-0 GreenFuel
FC Platinum 1-1 Hwange
ZPC Kariba 1-1 Simba Bhora
Ngezi Platinum 3 -1 Cranborne Bullets
Triangle 1-1 CAPS United
Manica Diamonds v Highlanders (Gibbo, 1pm)
Herentals v Bulawayo Chiefs (NSS, 1pm)