IT’S ON ! HARARE CITY VS FC PLATINUM TODAY | Leaders FC Platinum’s resolve not to crumble under the weight of pressure will be severely tested this afternoon at Rufaro as they seek to present firm title credentials of their pedigree to win a maiden Castle Lager Premiership crown by beating Harare City this afternoon.
Norman Mapeza and his men lead the way with 59 points, Dynamos are a point behind, Ngezi Platinum third on 57 points — with the two clubs battling it out in Mhondoro tomorrow — and Chicken Inn is the last one with a realistic chance of winning the title occupying fourth position with 55 points.
Only a win this afternoon against Harare City will guarantee FC Platinum position at the summit of the log. Last season, the Zvishavane miners slipped to a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Harare City, allowing CAPS United to take the lead on the same day after humbling relegated Border Strikers 3-1 in Beitbridge. After that defeat, Mapeza’s fury at the final whistle told the whole story — the battle and probably the war, had been lost.
Mapeza felt referee Philani Ncube gave them a raw deal for showing a straight red card to his midfield workhorse Gerald “Genera” Takwara in the 16th minute for a lunge on Tatenda Tumba. Now, he returns to the same venue today. “It is not going to be any easy game for us. We are on top of the log and Harare City are not yet clear from relegation. I think it is going to be an interesting game,” said Mapeza.
“There is need for co-ordination in our team from all the departments — defence, midfield and strikers — and we need to operate as a group. We have not dropped many points against teams from Harare.” Of late, the Zvishavane side have been in championship-winning form, managing six wins and two draws in their previous eight league games. They have only lost twice this season and a number of respected pundits, including former Zimbabwe international Harlington Shereni, have come out to back them to win the title.
It’s now called the Manguwa Theory after Spencer Manguwa, a Dynamos and Liverpool diehard Harare business executive, first worked out a formula a few weeks ago which suggested FC Platinum will be champions by two clear points. Harare City are tied on 34 points with Yadah Stars, three points ahead of Shabanie Mine in the relegation zone. Tsholotsho will be relegated this Sunday should they lose at home to Bantu Rovers who have already been demoted.
Harare City coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube is fully aware of their predicament. “We are worried and we have no choice, but to try and get a result. We have to make sure we get three points. “We are having sleepless nights, and we have to win tomorrow’s (today) game. Every point is now counting for us. The message to the boys have been go there, relax and remain positive. One thing for sure, it is easy to plan for them because we are the underdogs. We must not open space too much at the back and we should not give the ball away easily.
“They (FC Platinum) have been playing together for a long time. They are a good side, motivated to win the league, but then we have to play them at Rufaro at such a time,” said Ncube. The Sunshine Boys will be weakened with both fullbacks Takudzwa Chimwemwe and Pritchard Mpelele out with injuries. Midfielder William Manondo also misses the match through suspension.
Today: Harare City v Fc Platinum (Rufaro, 3pm SS).
Tomorrow: Bulawayo City v Chapungu (Barbourfields), Yadah v How Mine (Rufaro), Ngezi v Dynamos (Baobab, 2pm, SS), ZPC Kariba v Chicken Inn (Nyamhunga).
Sunday: Tsholotsho v Bantu Rovers (Dulivadzimo), Shabanie v Triangle (Maglas), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields)), CAPS United v Hwange (National Sports Stadium, 3pm, SS).