DYNAMOS IN DANGER Relegation fight, only three teams safe
ONLY the top three teams on the Castle Lager Premiership table FC Platinum, Caps United and Highlanders are guaranteed of topflight football next season, going into Week 24 fixtures today and tomorrow.
FC Platinum on 47 points, Caps United (46) and Highlanders (41) have gone past the magic number 40, which guarantees safety.
Although it may seem unthinkable that former champions Dynamos can actually face relegation, mathematically DeMbare are not safe on 35 points from 23 games.
With seven matches to go, Dynamos need to up their game to secure enough points to surpass the 40-point mark. Their form has not been consistent with their status and they need to start winning from this afternoon’s clash against second from bottom side Tsholotsho at Rufaro Stadium.
Tsholotsho presently sit on 19 points and can end the season on 40 points in the event that they win their remaining seven matches.
Dynamos are under pressure to perform following a 1-2 loss to Highlanders in their previous league encounter at Barbourfields Stadium two weeks ago.
DeMbare also suffered a morale-shattering loss to How Mine in the Chibuku Super Cup at Rufaro Stadium and will be under pressure to end the turmoil in their camp.
On the other hand, Tsholotsho ejected Caps United from the Chibuku Super Cup in Harare at the weekend and go into today’s tie with their tails wagging. Coach Lizwe Sweswe believes the pressure Dynamos are under could be good for his relegation battling side.
“What they’re going through may be good for us because they’re desperate for a win and may overdo things resulting in them making some mistakes. For us, it’s about maintaining consistency and the players now understand that they’re the main actors in this survival battle. We’re going to Rufaro with victory on our minds,” said Sweswe.
Although Sweswe is confident they’ll survive the chop, their remaining fixtures, starting with today’s game, are not easy games.
After today’s trip to Harare, Tsholotsho will host Harare City before travelling to Ngezi Platinum Stars. They then face Chapungu, Highlanders and Bulawayo City in Bulawayo, and end their season’s campaign in Zvishavane against FC Platinum.
“It’s tricky but possible. We have to show character and prove that we deserve to be in the elite league,” Sweswe said.
Mutare City, who are just a point above Tsholotsho on 20 points, also believe they can escape the chop.
Mutare City could end the season on 41 points if they win their remaining games, but just like Tsholotsho, they have to spring shockers along the way.
ey are left with four away games to Chicken Inn, How Mine, Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum, as well as home ties against ZPC Kariba, Border Strikers and Harare City.
Tomorrow, Mutare City face champions Chicken Inn at White City Stadium, an encounter they’re unlikely to win. Chicken Inn beat Mutare City 3-1 in the first leg and a victory for the champions will go a long way in aiding Tsholotsho’s cause.
“We won’t be relegated. The bottom two teams will go,” said a confident Mutare City coach Taku Shariwa.
Bottom of the table Border Strikers will need a miracle to escape relegation. With just 13 points, Strikers are unlikely to collect 21 points from their remaining seven matches in which they will face FC Platinum, Hwange, Caps United, Mutare City, Triangle United, Chicken Inn and ZPC Kariba.
Their relegation fate may have already been sealed, as early their next three games are tough assignments against FC Platinum, Hwange and Caps United. – @ZililoR
Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa