PSL ti­tle race set for photo fin­ish

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo

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.

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