Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum will be out to end their three-match winless streak in the second half of the season by piling more woes on relegation threatened Bulawayo City at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
The table toppers ended the first half of the season six points ahead of second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars, but their lead has been reduced to two points.
The Zvishavane side has 46 points from 20 outings.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is hopeful his players will get their campaign back on track following a slow start to the last half of the season. They suffered a shock 1-2 defeat to ZPC Kariba and battled to two draws against Yadah and Caps United.
Mapeza is wary of Bulawayo City, who are under the guidance of caretaker coach Bekithemba Ndlovu following the sacking of Amini Soma-Phiri.
The FC Platinum game will be Ndlovu’s first in charge since Soma-Phiri’s departure.
“It’s always difficult (to play a relegation threatened team). We are playing a team that has just released their coach and that is a challenge. Maybe he will introduce new players that will want to impress him.
“I think pressure is always there because as a coach you want to do well. We go to every game to get three points, but if it doesn’t happen we have to accept the results,” said Mapeza.
On his team’s three-match winless streak, Mapeza said: “Everybody knows that we didn’t have a good start to our second half of the season. We’ve been working so hard to rectify the problems. From the look of things, I just hope when we get there we will come out with a positive result. The guys are raring to go and we’ve been training well. At the end of the day it’s up to them (players). We just have to go with a positive mind. We are ready for the match.”
On paper, FC Platinum have a stronger side than Bulawayo City and Mapeza indicated that he will retain the same team that drew against Caps United.
Just like FC Platinum, Bulawayo City are winless in the second half of the season. They have only picked up a point in three outings, drawing 1-1 with Harare City and losing 1-0 to Chapungu and 4-1 to Bulawayo Chiefs.
Ndlovu is bullish ahead of today’s game and is confident that they will survive relegation.
“There are 14 games to go. I think we are down there but we are not out.
“We have a big game against FC Platinum. It’s not an easy game, it’s a tough game. FC Platinum are a good side, they play good football and have a good coach but I think we will be ready for them. We’ve prepared very well. The determination and attitude shown by the boys is great. The level of competition at training is just amazing,” said Ndlovu.
Today:Chapungu v Bulawayo Chiefs (Ascot), Caps United v Black Rhinos (Rufaro), Bulawayo City v FC Platinum (Barbourfields), ZPC Kariba v Triangle United (Nyamhunga), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Nichrut (Baobab)
Tomorrow: Yadah v Herentals (Rufaro), Shabanie Mine v Chicken Inn (Maglas), Highlanders v Dynamos (postponed)