PSL title race set for photo finish
LOCAL football fans should brace themselves for an exciting end to this season’s Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship race following impressive wins posted by the top three teams vying for the title.
Leaders FC Platinum bounced back from a minor goalless setback against table anchors Border Strikers to inflict more pain on former champions Dynamos with a 2-0 win to take their points tally to 51. Caps United are breathing heavily on their neck and are just a point adrift following their dramatic injury time winner to edge How Mine 3-2.
Highlanders had to come from a goal down to pip visiting Ngezi Platinum Stars 2-1, taking their points to 47, four behind FC Platinum.
The top three clubs have set the foundation for a championship photo-finish having collected maximum points against strong opposition at the end of Week 25.
How the top three teams fare in the last five games is what creates excitement in this championship race.
FC Platinum: The Zvishavane-based side has managed to pick up 18 points in its 10-second half of the season matches, consisting of four wins and six draws.
They are now left with three away trips to unpredictable Harare City, a side that held them to a 0-0 draw in the first half, Chapungu at Gweru’s Ascot Stadium on Week 28 and wrap up their season with a road trip to Bulawayo against relegation threatened Tsholotsho.
FC Platinum laboured to a 1-0 win against Chapungu in the first round and the airmen, who have proved to be hard to beat at home, could blow the table-toppers’ title hopes either by holding them to a draw or handing the Zvishavane side a defeat.
Tsholotsho, who are involved in the survival fight, are also tricky customers for FC Platinum and could be party spoilers in the event the championship and relegation are decided on the last day.
FC Platinum can do themselves a favour and eliminate Highlanders from the title race when Bosso visit them on Week 29. Their other remaining home game is Week 27 against Ngezi Platinum.
If FC Platinum reproduce the results they registered in the first half of the season in their last five games, they will garner 13 points from a possible 15, which would take their season’s tally to 64. With a bit of luck, those points can win them the title.
Caps United: The never-say-die attitude exhibited by Caps United shows their great championship character. If the Green Machine is to win the title, then the players need more such performances to avoid defeats.
The Green Machine last won the championship in 2005 and is left with three out of Harare games against Border Strikers in their next fixture. Their last game of the season is against Chapungu in Gweru.
If they clear the Strikers’ hurdle, Caps United’s two Harare matches against perennial rivals Dynamos, Harare City and the one against Ngezi Platinum will be key in determining their championship hopes.
Caps United picked 13 points from the five teams in the first round and need to win all their games and hope FC Platinum slips along the way if they are to be crowned champions.
The Green Machine’s toughest games from the remaining five will be against Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum, who are fighting for a respectable finish.
Of the three teams vying for the title, Caps United have picked the most points in the second half of the season, getting 19 points out of a possible 30 from six wins, three draws and a defeat.
Highlanders: Bosso will rue the bad start to the second half of the season where they only managed to collect a point from five games.
However, Highlanders have managed to put their poor run behind them, registering five consecutive wins.
Highlanders have what looks like relatively easy assignments in their remaining games, but then Bosso have many a times flattered only to deceive.
Their next assignment is a trip to Gweru for a date against Chapungu. After the Midlands trip, Highlanders will play two consecutive home games against Bulawayo City and Tsholotsho. Bosso will fancy their chances of marching to victory against these three opponents.
The real test for Bosso comes in Week 29 when they visit FC Platinum at Mandava, a match that is likely to have a significant bearing on the title race.
This means between now and Week 29, Highlanders need to collect maximum points and hope FC Platinum and Caps United drop points.
In reality, the championship destiny is not in Highlanders’ hands as they have to rely on teams playing against fellow championship contenders to do them favours.
If they win all their remaining games, Highlanders can only end the season on 62 points.