Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE country’s best two teams — FC Platinum and Highlanders — in the second-half of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season face off at the weekend in an all-to-play-for encounter at Barbourfields Stadium.
FC Platinum, the league’s table-toppers have collected 27 points in the 11 second-half of the season outings, while Bosso who are on the revival path have amassed 22 points during the same period.
With six matches to go before the end of the season, FC Platinum are on 61 points and they just need three victories to reach an unassailable 70 points.
Their weekend opponents Highlanders are fourth on the table at a distant 45 points and consolidating a top-four finish is what Bosso have their eyes on. Should Chicken Inn on 51 points and Dynamos on 50 points falter along the way, Highlanders might have hopes of a second-place finish since they will face the Gamecocks and DeMbare in their last six games.
Bosso face FC Platinum hard-pressed to make amends for a wasteful away trip against Cranborne Bullets which they drew 1-1, while the platinum miners who are sensing victory and are advancing to title coronation managed a 1-0 home win against Bulawayo City.
The weekend game in Bulawayo promises to be an epic clash, with the defending champions’ coach Norman Mapeza, whose side is just nine points from bagging a fourth consecutive title taking aim at Bosso.
“My main focus is on the Highlanders game,” said Mapeza.
It’s a game that will invoke emotions among Bosso players after the first leg was abandoned in the 84th minute with the scoreline tied 1-1 in Zvishavane after FC Platinum had been awarded a penalty.
Referee of the day Kuzivamwari Jaravaza awarded the late penalty that Highlanders players and officials contested as they argued the contact between defender Peter Muduhwa and FC Platinum forward Walter Musona occurred outside the box.
A pitch invasion by Highlanders supporters followed before police fired tear gas leading to abandonment of the match.
The PSL then slapped Bosso with a US$6 000 fine and awarded FC Platinum three points on a 3-0 scoreline.
But on Sunday, Highlanders, will hope that coach Baltemar Brito who joined them at mid-season works his magic and delivers a blow to FC Platinum to delay their coronation.
To do so, Highlanders have to be clinical upfront, with their midfield creating the scoring opportunities while their defence of Peter Muduhwa, Mbongeni Ndlovu, Andrew Mbeba and Godfrey Makaruse keep track of FC Platinum’s offensive players who include Musona, Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya, box-to-box midfielder Brian Banda who will be facing his former paymasters.
Highlanders will pin hopes on striker Lynoth Chikuhwa who has 10 goals and four assists to lead their attack alongside Washington Navaya or Stanley Ngala.
Bosso’s central midfield duo of Nqobizitha Masuku and Darlington Mukuli are likely to be trusted to deal with Banda, Rainsome Pavari and Juan Mutudza.
FC Platinum have an economic defence that has let in nine goals in 28 games, meaning that Highlanders should work harder to breach that backline.
Goalkeeper Wallace Magalane has been impressive between the sticks, with captain Gift Bello and Lawrence Mhlanga ably marshalling FC Platinum’s defence.
Meanwhile, second-placed Chicken Inn are at home to survival fighters Bulawayo City who are five points to safety, while Dynamos take a trip to Mutare for a date with Manica Diamonds.
PSL Matchday 29 fixtures
Friday, September 30: Yadah v Tenax (National Sports Stadium)
Saturday, October 1: Black Rhinos v Harare City (Vengere), Ngezi Platinum Stars v ZPCC Kariba (Baobab), Herentals v Cranborne Bullets (National Sports Stadium), Whawha v Bulawayo Chefs (Ascot), Bulawayo City v Chicken Inn (Barbourfields)
Sunday, October 2: Highlanders v FC Platinum (Barbourfields), Manica Diamonds v Dynamos (Sakubva), Caps United v Triangle United (National Sports Stadium) —@ZililoR
Article Source: The Chronicle