Platinum match potential title decider: Akbay
HIGHLANDERS coach Erol Akbay believes their game against FC Platinum in the penultimate round of this year’s Castle Lager Championship race could play a big part in deciding the destiny of the title.
The Dutch coach expects a titanic contest following a weekend of successes for the top three teams.
Highlanders, in third place, maintained pressure on log leaders FC Platinum and Caps United as they needed a last-gasp penalty to secure maximum points in a 2-1 win over Ngezi Platinum at Barbourfields on Sunday.
FC Platinum comfortably defeated ailing giants Dynamos 2-0 at Mandava while Caps United edged How Mine 3-2 at the National Sports Stadium.
FC Platinum lead the race with 51 points, four ahead of Highlanders, while Caps United have 50 points with five games remaining in the season and Akbay is optimistic Bosso will end their 10-year barren run in search of the league title.
They have won their last five league games in a row and the Dutch mentor believes their game against FC Platinum at Mandava in Week 29 could be decisive.
“If we can win our next three games, then we’ll have a better chance. I’m sure if we win against FC Platinum it’ll be to our advantage. In fact, that game will probably decide our fate.
“But Caps United could also take advantage. It’s still complicated,” said Akbay.
Bosso will face Chapungu away in their next league game before hosting Bulawayo City.
They will then play Tsholotsho in Bulawayo ahead of the trip to Mandava.
Highlanders will wrap up their campaign against Hwange at home.
“We’ve to win every week. Like I said to the guys, ‘if you want something big you have to win your matches.’ Now we’ve won five games in a row. “We really want to continue winning and then hope that the top two will drop points at some stage. “It’s frustrating they also won their games. What matters though is that we’ve to win our own matches consistently. “I’m happy with the fighting spirit in our side. Sometimes you concede some of those stupid goals and you’ve to work hard afterwards. This is what has been happening but I’m happy with the boys’ fighting character.” Highlanders had to come from behind with goals from Simon Munawa and Erick Mudzingwa, from the penalty spot, after Ngezi Platinum had taken the lead through Tatenda Machisa. Although Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya questioned Bosso’s last-gasp penalty, television replays showed the defender pulled Ralph Matema’s shorts and referee Philani Ncube made a brave, but ultimately correct, call. Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe was also in bullish mood following their win over How Mine. Chitembwe said Caps will fight their own battles up to the finishing line. FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza remained humble after his side completed back-to-back wins over Dynamos for the first time since the miners were promoted in 2011. “We’re not putting ourselves under pressure because God knows our destiny. We didn’t plan to get goals from set pieces and that is how the game is. “After the Border Strikers game, we talked to the boys and said, ‘if you really want to win the championship, we have to fight’. “There are more games to come and we really need to focus,” said Mapeza. FC Platinum’s last five matches will be against Harare City (away), Ngezi Platinum (home), Chapungu (away), Highlanders (home) and Tsholotsho (away). —
Tsholotsho’s MacClive Phiri (left) tries to get the ball from Harare City’s Edwin Madhanhanga during a soccer league match played at Luveve Stadium, Bulawayo, yesterday. Picture by Dennis Mudzamiri