Bantu Rovers fight to re­tain top po­si­tion as fi­nal stretch be­gins

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo Se­nior Sports Re­porter

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

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