BIG BOYS NIGHTMARE

Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
AS  the curtain comes down on the 2108 Premiership season this afternoon, it will be reflection time for traditional giants, Dynamos, Highlanders who will look back to failed campaigns in which they will end yet another frustrating term empty-handed.

For the second successive season, the country’s football heavyweights will have to live in the shadows of champions FC Platinum.

None of DeMbare, Bosso or Makepekepe could atone for their disappointing league campaigns when failing to win the Chibuku Super Cup.

In fact, the trio did not even make the Chibuku final with Triangle beating Harare City to claim the silverware and with it a chance to represent Zimbabwe in the Confederation Cup.

DeMbare will travel to already relegated Nichrut at Ascot, CAPS United will receive Chapungu at the National Sports Stadium while Bosso ended their term with a 0-0 home draw against FC Platinum on Wednesday.

As the season comes to its business end, the failure by the traditional powerhouses to put up a strong fight for the championship, somewhat brought an anti-climax to a season that could hardly be described as riveting.

That league runners-up Ngezi Platinum also fizzled out along the way meant that FC Platinum won the title with two games to spare, the first time this has happened in the Premiership in the last five years. In the end, FC Platinum were chasing a fresh dream of reaching the 80-point mark.

Lloyd Chigowe

While CAPS United and Highlanders kept faith in coaches Lloyd Chitembwe and Madinda Ndlovu and bought into their respective gaffers’ gospel of “rebuilding their teams’’ there was no such joy for DeMbare’s Lloyd Mutasa.

As Dynamos tottered on the brink of relegation, Mutasa paid the ultimate price when being axed with juniors’ coach Lloyd Chigowe being elevated to save the Glamour Boys ship from                                                  sinking.

Just as he did when he took charge of Bosso, Ndlovu convinced the Highlanders faithful and executives that he was on a rebuilding exercise with his Bulawayo giants project being nicknamed “ECD”.

To die-hard Bosso fans, it was however, just another failed season and they will be hoping for a better 2019 season in the domestic game where the balance of power is clearly slipping away from the traditional “Big Three’’.

It is a similar tale at the Green half of Harare where CAPS United’s efforts to regroup after a decent Champions League run meant they lost the bulk of their best players to better pastures.

But Chitembwe will know that their position on the log table is not the best that the CAPS United supporters would have expected from the 2016 champions.

That the attendance figures at the three “big guns’ matches have been dwindling is a measure of “how the mighty have fallen.

Dynamos have not won the league since 2014 when Callisto Pasuwa concluded the fourth of his trend-setting successive titles.

Madinda Ndlovu

But for all the troubles at the giants, one team that could look back to 2018 with a huge measure of satisfaction is Harare City.

Harare City coach Mark Harrison wants his charges to beat Yadah in a derby to enhance their chances of ending the season in the top-six when the teams clash at Rufaro.

Eighth-placed Harare City, who gave a good account of themselves in a season in which they were meant to be playing Division One football, drew 16 matches, which could have helped them in their championship quest had they won them.

Now they are hoping to overcome Yadah and enhance their chances of finishing the campaign among the top-six.

With relegation slots having already been sealed following the demotion of Nichrut last week who completed the four-team list, Yadah are not under any pressure, probably for the first time this season and will be out to stop the Sunshine Boys.

Harrison is fully aware of that and yesterday urged his men to give everything they have to finish the season on a high.

“We would want to end the season on a high with victory over Yadah who I know are no pushovers. We want to win the game and finish the season on a high, collect all the points and go to the off-season break happy,” said Harrison.

“We need to have a positive attitude towards the game and I know we will get the result that we want against Yadah.

City were largely expected to struggle in a season they had to be recalled into the top-flight, having been relegated last year.

They only received a call to fill in the gap created by the demise of How Mine just two weeks before the start of the Premiership programme.

“We have had a good season considering that we were just preparing for life in the first division just two weeks before the top-flight season commenced.

“We had to adjust and prepare for the Premiership inside a week. So considering all those factors, I think we have had a remarkable season where we are just set to finish the campaign on the top half of the table’’.

“So in Saturday’s match we have to win our game and maybe hope that other results are good enough for us to attain sixth place,”

Harare City’s top-six ambition will depend on the outcome in the games involving CAPS United and Herentals.

“It’s a great achievement considering where we are coming from. We made big progress this season.

“At the end of the day I am very happy with the progress that we have made this season. For now, we have to start preparing for next season.”

The Englishman is convinced his team will do well in future and have the capability of reducing the yawning gap between them and the platinum teams.

“We have just started a project which has already shown some encouraging signs and we have a long way to go.

“We will see where to make changes in the squad but definitely we have made some good progress this season.

“We need to close the gap on the platinum teams. We need to improve and try to cut the gap between the platinum teams and us,’’ Harrison said.

 

Fixtures

 

Today

Yadah v Harare City (Rufaro)

ZPC Kariba v Bulawayo Chiefs (Nyamhunga)

Ngezi v Black Rhinos (Baobab)

Chicken Inn v Triangle (Luveve)

Nichrut v Dynamos (Ascot)

CAPS United v Chapungu (NSS)

Mutare City v Bulawayo City (Vengere)

Shabanie v Herentals (Maglas)