Antipas calls on players to be consistent

The Chronicle

Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter

COACH Joey Antipas has demanded that his Chicken Inn players push themselves to the limit to maintain pressure on FC Platinum and keep their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship alive.

The Gamecocks are second on the table and managed to keep within touching distance of the defending champions by defeating Mushowani Stars when the Premiership resumed at the weekend.

Chicken Inn thrashed Mushowani Stars 3-1, with the league’s leading scorer Clive Augusto grabbing a brace to average a goal per match to take his goals to 13 in 13 games. Sipho Ndlovu scored the other goal for Chicken Inn, while Mushowani’s face saver came from Evans Katema.

It is the ability to bounce back from two-winless outings, a 2-1 home defeat to Harare City and a 0-0 away draw to Triangle United that has given the Chicken Inn gaffer the confidence to implore his players to take charge of their championship race.

“Our players have been at the top of their game since the start of the season and deserve to be at the top. Going forward we need consistency. With consistency we can go all the way. The players must continue working hard. We have to keep pushing ourselves to the limit to stay in the championship track,” said Antipas.

Just above a third of the Premiership games have been played, and 21 games are left before the season ends, meaning 63 points are at stake for Chicken Inn and other teams that harbour championship dreams. Twists and turns are likely to be seen, with the top nine teams still mathematically in the title race.

Only nine points separate FC Platinum, who beat Manica Diamonds 1-0, and ninth-placed Dynamos, who are on 18 points.

Knowing very well that losing three games can dent either FC Platinum or Chicken Inn’s title aspirations, the team that will have the right mental strength stands a better chance of claiming the title.

Wheels seem to be coming off Caps United’s championship bus, as they extended their winless run to four games, after losing 1-0 to ZPC Hwange.

Caps United have lost three out of their last four games and drawn once. If they are to be taken as serious title contenders, Caps United, who remain third with 23 points, and trail FC Platinum by four points  have to put their house in order to turn their fortunes around.

Dynamos recovered from a 1-0 away loss to Highlanders to edge Chapungu 1-0 and in the process move three points above the relegation cliff.

A close analysis shows that mid-table teams are not safe from relegation, with three points separating Dynamos and TelOne, who occupy the last relegation slot.

It is such points’ differences that make the league exciting and competitive, as teams are expected to raise their game and keep fans captivated, while fighting for the championship and their survival.

Highlanders got a “big” point away at Ngezi Platinum Stars in a 1-1 stalemate.

Bosso, who were playing their first game after the departure of coach Madinda Ndlovu, played the better part of the match with 10 men and could have nicked maximum points, only to concede in the dying stages of the encounter.

Defender Andrew Mbeba was shown a straight-red card for a double-footed challenge on a Ngezi player.

“A brave display from the boys and a point gained against a team we lost six points to last season. If we continue fighting like we did today we stand a big chance of collecting points and move up the table,” said Mandla Mpofu, the new Highlanders’ coach.

 Castle Lager PSL Match Day 13 results

Saturday: Chicken Inn 3-1 Mushowani Stars, Herentals 0-2 Triangle United, ZPC Kariba 1-0 Caps United, Yadah 0-0 Black Rhinos, Ngezi Platinum Stars 1-1 Highlanders, FC Platinum 1-0 Manica Diamonds

Sunday: Hwange 1-0 Bulawayo Chiefs, TelOne 1-1 Harare City, Dynamos 1-0 Chapungu.

Table 

  P W D L F A GD Pts

FC Platinum 13 8 3 2 16 5 11 27

Chicken Inn 13 8 2 3 22 8 14 26

Caps United 13 7 2 4 23 16 7 23

Black Rhinos 13 6 5 2 14 10 4 23

ZPC Kariba 13 6 3 4 9 10 -1 21

Chapungu 13 5 4 4 15 12 3 19

Triangle United 13 5 3 5 16 15 1 18

Ngezi Platinum 13 4 6 3 11 10 1 18

Dynamos 13 5 3 5 8 9 -1 18

Manica Diamonds 13 4 5 4 12 11 1 17

Harare City 13 5 2 6 16 16 0 17

Hwange 13 5 2 6 10 15 -5 17

Herentals 13 3 6 4 9 10 -1 15

Highlanders 13 3 6 4 7 10 -3 15

TelOne 13 2 7 4 9 12 -3 13

Yadah 13 3 4 6 9 16 -7 13

Mushowani 13 2 3 8 13 20 -7 9

Bulawayo Chiefs 13 2 2 9 10 24 -14 8

– @ZililoR