The Sunday Mail
Sports Reporters —
THIS Castle Lager Premier Soccer League race is not for the faint hearted. AN explosive Match Day 28 left Caps United with destiny in their hands, FC Platinum still in the mix after posting their first win away to Chapungu and Highlanders’ championship hopes hanging by the thinnest of threads.
Leonard Tsipa scored a first minute goal, his 12th of the season, as Makepekepe edged a youthful Harare City at Rufaro. The veteran striker wobbled off on 30 minutes after picking up an injury. At Ascot goals from Tarisari Rukanda and Walter Musona carried the day for Pure Platinum Play.
A brace by Nixon Gama knocked the stuffing out of Highlanders at Barbourfields and lifted Tsholotsho out of the relegation zone. Substitute Ralph Matema scored Bosso’s consolation goal. With two rounds of matches remaining, Makepekepe (57 points) enjoy a two-point lead over second placed FC Platinum and will win the championship if they win their two remaining matches.
Caps will host in-form Ngezi Platinum Stars in Week 29 before travelling to Ascot for a date with Chapungu on the last day of the season. Makepekepe gaffer Lloyd Chitembwe was the first to admit that his boys were below par.
“I am very happy with the result but performance wise I was not very impressed. What is important however is to continue grinding these results,” he said.
“Yes it’s two games to go but we are taking it game by game. There is still a lot of work to be done in the remaining matches.
“Pressure is now huge but we have managed it well since the beginning of the season and I hope we will also manage it well in the final two matches.”
City coach Moses “Bambo” Chunga came in for some stick after announcing that he will field youngsters against Makepekepe but the outspoken gaffer felt vindicated as his team gave their title chasing opponents a good run for their money.
“We have a program of infusing youngsters into the team and if we could get more opportunities we will field even more. I am proud of the youngsters, they showed they can mix well with the seniors.
“Even the goal they scored I don’t think it’s a mistake from the keeper as such because this is a player who has not played all season and what he did is to be expected.”
After recording their first ever league win against Chapungu at Ascot, FC Platinum will now be hoping for a Caps United slip in the last two rounds. Norman Mapeza’s charges have a tricky fixture against Highlanders in the penultimate week before they wrap up the season with a clash against Tsholotsho in Bulawayo.
Mapeza remains confident that his team will complete a league and cup double this term.
“Many people had written us off but we came here looking for a positive result and I am glad we got it,” he said after the win over Chapungu.
“I wasn’t really concerned about the score line, I just wanted a win. We are still in the hunt for a league and cup double. Everything is possible for us, we just have to continue believing.”
A week after they were bundled out of the Chibuku Super Cup, Bosso’s woes were compounded by a spirited Tsholotsho who hauled themselves out of the red zone with a famous victory.
Tsholotsho are now on 26 points, a point above Mutare City Rovers who now occupy the last relegation slot. Mutare City have a tough fixture against top four chasing Dynamos at Rufaro this afternoon. It was Tsholotsho’s first league win against Highlanders and the result left Bosso four points behind the log leaders.
Bosso now need two straight victories and hope that both Caps United and FC Platinum fail to get maximum points in their remaining fixtures. Highlanders will travel to Mandava in a decisive Week 29 before completing their 2016 program with a home fixture against Hwange.
Meanwhile, red hot Ngezi Platinum Stars kept their hopes of finishing in the top eight alive with an emphatic win over inconsistent Hwange at the Baobab.
Donald Teguru, Kenneth Bulaji and Terrence Dzukamanja were on target for the Mhondoro based wide who finished the day on position eight.