Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League games are coming thick and fast, with the championship chasing sides as well as relegation threatened outfits facing tricky weekend encounters.
Smarting from a shock 1-0 away defeat to Harare City, defending champions FC Platinum, sitting at the top of the table with 52 points, one ahead of second placed Ngezi Platinum Stars, face unpredictable giant killer Bulawayo Chiefs at Mandava Stadium this afternoon.
Chiefs surprised FC Platinum in the first leg, beating the reigning champions 2-0 at Luveve Stadium courtesy of goals by Kundishora Chakanyuka and Moses Majika.
What makes the encounter tricky for FC Platinum is that Chiefs are enjoying a good run and have picked more points since the start of the second half than FC Platinum. Six games into the second half of the season, Chiefs have amassed 11 points from a possible 18, and have gone for a five-match unbeaten run, winning three of those encounters and drawing twice.
FC Platinum on the other end have had a shaky campaign in the second half of the season, only managing to pick eight points from a possible 18.
It is the pressure to return to winning ways and avoid dropping points so that they hold on to their top spot that could work against FC Platinum.
While FC Platinum are smarting from a 1-0 away loss to Harare City, Chiefs are bubbling with confidence following a 3-2 home win against Mutare City Rovers in a match that they came twice from behind to collect maximum points.
Marketing themselves and proving that despite not having resources they are a good outfit, Chiefs players like playmaker Perfect Chikwende, defenders Andrew Tandi, Marlvin Mkolo and Shadreck Nyahwa, midfield duo of Takunda Muzuwa and Gracious Muleya as well as attacking pair of Farau Matare and Stanley Ngala are expected to give the platinum miners a good run for their money.
Thulani Sibanda, the brains behind Chiefs’ technical and tactical abilities said they are ready for FC Platinum.
“Such games are self-motivating for the boys. We respect FC Platinum and as defending champions we go there knowing what to expect. Obviously we can’t think about the result of the first leg, this is a new game which we will approach with an open mind,” said Sibanda.
Chiefs will have to closely monitor players like defender Kelvin Moyo, midfielders Rahman Kutsanzira, Edwin Madanhanga, Winston Mhango and Rodwell Chinyengetere who are FC Platinum’s heartbeat.
Ngezi Platinum Stars visit lowly placed Mutare City tomorrow, a side they laboured to a 2-1 home win in the first leg.
Championship dark horses Chicken Inn will be out to stretch their unbeaten run to nine games and build on Thursday’s 3-2 derby win against Highlanders when they face ZPC Kariba tomorrow at Luveve Stadium.
Today: Herentals v Chapungu (Rufaro), FC Platinum v Bulawayo Chiefs (Mandava)
Tomorrow: Mutare City Rovers v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Vengere), Nichrut v Yadah (Ascot), Chicken Inn v ZPC Kariba (Luveve), Black Rhinos v Harare City (postponed), Shabanie Mine v Highlanders (postponed), Dynamos v Caps United (postponed), Triangle United v Bulawayo City (Gibbo)