Bantu Rovers fight to retain top position as final stretch begins
THE Southern Region Division One Soccer League enters its final third of the season with Bulawayo Chiefs back in the title chase, heavily breathing on leaders Bantu Rovers’ neck.
Following table toppers Bantu Rovers’ midweek 2-3 loss to Talen Vision, Chiefs who are second on the table with 41 points from 20 games, are now three points behind the leaders.
The last 10 games of the season will be exhilarating as Rovers who have been at the helm of the Southern Region Division One Soccer League table for the better part of the season will do everything to cling on to top position.
Rovers are away against Hwange Juniors at the Colliery Stadium this afternoon, with the hope of bouncing back to winning ways following two consecutive defeats.
Going into last weekend games Rovers had a ninepoint lead which was reduced to six points after they lost 0-1 to Chiefs and during the week they went down 2-3 to Talen Vision while Chiefs benefitted three points without kicking a ball after ZRP Hwange failed to turn-up for their game in Bulawayo.
Rovers’ coach Johannes Ngodzo challenged his players to come out of their slumber and return to winning ways.
“The two losses are just but a minor setback which we must overcome. It happens in football that you hit a bad spell and we hope that we will be able to get a positive result this weekend. Everyone is geared up for the game,” said Ngodzo.
Rovers should be wary of their weekend opponents who held Chiefs to a 1-1 draw a few weeks back at the Colliery Stadium
The young coalminers are known to knock the ball around, starting their build-ups from the back, a play that is almost similar to Rovers’.
How Rovers handle pressure that they found themselves in knowing very well that Chiefs are close by will be key in their approach.
Chiefs on the other hand are at home to an unpredictable Casmyn, with coach Thulani Sibanda wary of his opponents.
“Casmyn are a good side and we’re expecting a tight game. No game is easy in this league and trust me we know that because a few weeks ago we lost to Talen Vision 2-0. Teams in our league are good and I’m sure the remaining matches will be exciting,” said Sibanda.
About the championship race, Sibanda said: “We may be three points behind Bantu Rovers but we’re certainly not thinking about the title. What is key for us is to improve on our past mistakes and make sure that we improve our performance. Bantu Rovers are still favourites.”
A win for Chiefs and a loss for Rovers will leave both teams tied on 44 points with the latter remaining on pole position because of a superior goal difference.
Should Rovers draw and Chiefs win, the former will see their three points lead reduced just to a point.
Meanwhile, championship darkhorses Amagagasi face Victoria Falls Tigers in a resort town derby, with the former who won the first leg 1-0 courtesy of a Nhlanhla Ndlovu strike, hoping to keep up with the leading group.
Ndlovu left Amagagasi during the midseason transfer window to join Highlanders.
Bulawayo Chiefs coach Thulani Sibanda