Castle Lager Premier League focus shifts to relegation battle

WITH the championship race won by FC Platinum who defended the title at the weekend to confirm their dominance of the local football scene, focus now turns to the other end of the table where at least four teams are battling to avoid the fourth and last relegation slot.

BY GARISH PHIRI

One of these four teams – Nichrut, Chapungu, Bulawayo Chiefs and Yadah – will join Shabanie Mine, Mutare City and Bulawayo City who have already been relegated.

Two remaining rounds of matches will decide the fate of the unfortunate team, although it could be sealed as early as the next round of fixtures.

Nichrut currently occupy the unwanted slot and are the most vulnerable after just one season in the top flight.

If losing to Herentals on Saturday was not the final nail in the coffin for the Shurugwi-based side, a defeat against Triangle in their next match would be.

That is how straight forward their situation is. On 33 points, for them to stand a chance, they need to win their remaining two matches which also include a home game against Dynamos, and hope that results involving the other three teams go their way.

Chapungu, the most high-profile team in the relegation battle also lost their weekend match, but unlike their Midlands neighbours, they are still in control of their destiny.

They lead Nichrut by four points going into their next match against Yadah, before concluding their campaign with a clash against Caps United.

Their run-in looks very daunting, but they just need to get two points from those two matches to secure their stay, and it’s likely that they will get them.

Bulawayo Chiefs are five points above the drop zone, and they have every reason to be optimistic about their chances of survival, as they face city neighbours Highlanders next. They need two points to secure their stay, and will hope that by the time they visit ZPC Kariba in their last match, they would be already safe.

Yadah’s goalless draw against Bulawayo City at the weekend initially felt like two points dropped, but as soon as news filtered in that all their other relegation rivals had lost their respective matches, the point was actually a huge gain.

While that point at the weekend could yet save them, they need another one in their penultimate game against Chapungu to be sure. They wrap their season against Harare City.