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Six sides in title hunt as season winds down
17/10/2013 00:00:00
by Newsday
 
Leading title hunt ... Highlanders coach, Kelvin Kaindu
 
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WITH just six matches left in the campaign, the Castle Lager Premiership race has been thrown wide open with any of the top six teams including Chicken Inn and Caps United now with a strong say on the destiny of the championship.

Highlanders now lead the pack with 44 points from 24 matches following a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Tripple B on Wednesday.

Defending champions Dynamos, with just one win away from Harare, choked at Mandava Stadium on Wednesday, falling 2-0 to FC Platinum to surrender the top spot to the Bulawayo giants at a crucial stage of the campaign.

It was their fourth defeat of the campaign and the first time to lose to FC Platinum since the Zvishavane side won promotion into the top-flight league.

More important, the defeat has come at a very critical stage which could plunge DeMbare’s campaign into an irrevocable nosedive.

Dynamos will have to climb a high and steep cliff in their bid to defend the title for the third successive season.

They are faced with tricky assignments in their remaining six matches.

They host relegation-threatened Tripple B at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday before making a trip to Bulawayo for a date with Highlanders in a top-of-the-table clash, which is likely to decide the destiny of the championship.

Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will then travel to Chiredzi to face Triangle.

Up next is their bogey side Shabanie Mine who have given them problems in the past with the two teams settling for a draw in the reverse fixture, while the asbestos miners dumped DeMbare from the BancABC Sup8r Cup which they went on to win.

They have another trip to Bulawayo for a date with Chicken Inn before winding up the campaign with a home tie against relegation-threatened police side Black Mambas.

While Dynamos are encouraged by the fact that they have not lost to Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium since 2006, their poor record outside the capital this season remains a major concern which analysts believe could be their biggest undoing in their quest to retain the Premiership crown.

With a trip to Chicken Inn still to come, Dynamos have sad memories of their last visit there in 2012 when they were edged 1-0.

Earlier this season, the Bulawayo side forced a share of the spoils in the second game of the season with Premier Soccer League leading goal scorer Tendai Ndoro getting the priceless goal before Cliff Sekete’s equaliser.



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Highlanders also have equally tough assignments.

They travel to Rimuka Stadium to face relegation candidates Black Rhinos this weekend before hosting Dynamos, hoping to break the long-standing hoodoo against their nemesis.

They will then travel to Harare to face Motor Action before hosting Triangle.

Highlanders will also travel to the capital for a date with tricky opponents and championship chasing Harare City.

Last season, the two teams drew twice, but this season Highlanders overcame the Sunshine City Boys 2-0 in the reverse fixture.

Bosso will then finish their campaign with a date against Shabanie Mine.

FC Platinum, now on third position with 42 points — the same as Harare City following their triumph over Dynamos — face Triangle this weekend.

Lloyd Mutasa’s men, seeking their maiden championship since winning promotion into the top-flight league, will then travel to Chicken Inn before hosting Black Mambas.

They will hit the road to How Mine before ending the campaign with a date against army side Buffaloes.

Harare City, who also have a strong say in the race, have Chicken Inn to think about this weekend.

They also have tricky fixtures against relegation candidates Black Mambas, Buffaloes, How Mine and Black Rhinos before winding up their campaign with a date against Caps United.

However, Caps United and Chicken Inn on fifth and sixth position with 39 and 36 points respectively, seem to have a say too.

The Harare giants appear to have the easiest fixtures compared to other title contenders starting with a date against Black Mambas tomorrow.

The remaining fixtures are against Buffaloes, Black Rhinos, Motor Action and Harare City.

Chicken Inn, however, face a very big challenge in their next assignments as they will face Hwange at the weekend, then FC Platinum, Tripple B and Dynamos before facing Triangle in their last match of the season.

A fierce battle for survival has also erupted at the base of the table with Motor Action still anchoring the league table with just 17 points.

After falling 1-0 to How Mine on Wednesday, the Mighty Bulls are sure relegation candidates.

So are second-placed from the bottom, Tripple B, who have just 19 points in the campaign to date.

Financially-troubled Monomotapa, with only 24 points, are also facing the chop.

Black Rhinos, who have 27 points with just six matches left, need to roll up their sleeves to escape the dreaded axe.

Police side Black Mambas and Hwange, with 29 points each, are not safe either.





 
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