Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
A classic run in to Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title is on cards as the top four clubs battle for the 18 points at stake.
Six rounds of games are left before the season closes.
As much as the focus will be on the performances of championship aspirants, similar if not more scrutiny will be upon match officials.
Several matches thus far this season have ended with coaches, players and fans up in arms with calls made by match officials who they accused of determining results.
However, there have been some credible performances by the likes of former Referee of the Year Ruzive Ruzive, Nomore Musundire and Nkosana Nduna.
The trio are among the few who have set the bar high in a season where match officiating has received its fair share of negative publicity.
Ruzive was at the centre of the high-profile Highlanders-FC Platinum encounter, charming his way into the hearts of hard-to-please Bosso fans with a disciplined performance in the middle.
In previous seasons, referees have been drawn into controversy with questionable officiating in matches involving championship teams but Ruzive and his team proved otherwise.
The challenge is on referees who will handle the last six games set to determine the champions as well as teams to be relegated.
It is the championship race that has generated lots of interest with five points separating leaders Dynamos who are on 57 points from 28 matches and fourth placed Chicken Inn.
Second on the table Ngezi Platinum Stars and FC Platinum are a point adrift of Dynamos.
The former champions surprisingly blew away a three-point lead they enjoyed going into the weekend as they picked a point in a 1-1 draw against ZPC Kariba. It is uncharacteristic of Dynamos to drop points at crucial stages.
The Harare giants have a tricky road to the title.
DeMbare are expected to easily collect maximum points against Tsholotsho FC at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow, which is one of the “easiest” remaining games.
Dynamos’ next assignment is a must win against second placed Ngezi Platinum at Baobab. For Dynamos to win the title, they have to eliminate Ngezi from the race.
That tie will be followed by two away trips to the City of King against Bulawayo City and Bantu Rovers. They wrap their season against Chicken Inn at home.
They crept back into strong contention closing Dynamos’ three-point gap just to a point when they edged Bulawayo City 1-0 in Bulawayo. Dynamos’ slip up propped up Ngezi.
The platinum miners face Chapungu in Gweru tomorrow knowing that there is no room for error if they want to stay in the title contention.
Besides facing Dynamos in the last matches of the season, Ngezi will entertain Chicken Inn on Week 32 followed by the FC Platinum away trip before closing the season against Triangle United.
Ngezi’s easy match will be away to relegated Bantu Rovers on Week 31.
The Zvishavane side showed character when they came from a goal down to beat Highlanders 2-1 and move within a point to Dynamos.
They face Shabanie Mine in a Zvishavane derby tomorrow in a match dubbed the clash of “The haves and the have nots”. FC Platinum are flamboyant yet their neighbours are struggling financially and are even staring relegation in the face. With Shabanie Mine fighting for their survival, FC Platinum have to be wary of their noisy neighbours.
FC Platinum have a tough ending as they will be away to Harare City after Shabanie Mine followed by a home game against ZPC Kariba. Their last three games are against Tsholotsho FC (away), Ngezi platinum Stars (home) and Chapungu in Gweru.
They seem to be turning from being title contenders to pretenders. They dropped valuable points to Shabanie Mine when they drew 1-1.
Trailing Dynamos by five points, the destination of the title is no longer in their hands and will need other teams to do them favour by throwing spanners in the works for Dynamos, Ngezi and FC Platinum.
Chicken Inn are home to relegation threatened Harare City on Thursday before taking on ZPC Kariba in Kariba which will be followed by a home game against Tsholotsho FC, away trip to Ngezi, Chapungu (home ) and Dynamos in Harare.
Friday: Shabanie Mine 1-1 Chicken Inn
Saturday: Bulawayo City 0-1 Ngezi Platinum, Tsholotsho FC 0-3 Chapungu, ZPC Kariba 1-1 Dynamos, Yadah FC 3-3 Black Rhinos, Harare City 5-0 Bantu Rovers, How Mine 0-1 Hwange
Sunday: Caps United 1-0 Triangle United, Highlanders 1-2 FC Platinum
Tomorrow: Bantu Rovers v ZPC Kariba (Luveve, 1PM), How Mine v Bulawayo City (Luveve, 3PM), FC Platinum v Shabanie Mine (Mandava), Chapungu v Ngezi Platinum (Ascot), Hwange v Yadah (Colliery), Dynamos v Tsholotsho FC (National Sports Stadium)
Thursday: Triangle United v Highlanders (Gibbo), Black Rhinos v Caps United (National Sports Stadium), Chicken Inn v Harare City (Luveve)
Article Source: The Chronicle