AFTER a long lay-off, the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League returns Wednesday with some mid-week clashes as the league enters round 20.
League teams last played on August 15 as they had to pave way for national team commitments and the BancABC Sup8r tournament played at the weekend.
All the teams are back into action this week and there are some exciting matches for the top teams on Wednesday.
At Rufaro, leaders Harare City host defending champions Dynamos. The champions – missing the services of banned midfielder Devon Chafa – will have to quickly put behind their disappointment of failing to secure a BancABC Sup8r final place and shift their focus to the title race.
This match is very crucial and has a bearing on the league title, with just 10 matches to play.
At Barbourfields in Bulawayo, second placed Highlanders welcome Monomotapa who were at the losing end at the same ground last Sunday. The Harare team were beaten 3-1 by FC Platinum in the BancABC Sup8r semi-finals.
Highlanders are not in their best shape at the moment. Zambian coach Kelvin Kaindu will be hoping that the break will re-energise his men for a final push.
Bosso mauled Monoz 5-2 in the reverse leg at Rufaro. A brace from Graham Ncube and Mthulisi Maphosa as well as a goal from Njabulo Ncube buried the hosts. A brace from Monoz striker Ishmael Lawe could not count for much.
Monomotapa coach Biggie Zuze said they were going to Bulawayo with one thing in mind: to start picking up points.
He said: “We have to put our heads together because the position we are in is not good. We lost heavily at Rufaro but created a lot of chances. So we have to rise to the occasion now. Morale maybe a bit down because at the weekend we lost in the semi finals.
“But I believe we might have an advantage. We managed to shake off some rust at the weekend but our opponents were not active.”
The coach said they were having some problems with finishing and were also not very solid at the first line of defence.
“We are not finishing the chances we creating and it was the same against FC Platinum. Also our defence is conceding unnecessary goals especially towards the end of the match. We have a new defender Lawrence Mhlanga and he had stabilised our defence but was injured during the FC Platinum match. We are going to miss him,” he said.Advertisement
Zuze would also be hoping that Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo and Obey Mwerahari recover in time for the game. The duo got knocks during the clash against FC Platinum and on Monday only managed light training.
The coach said in the absence of the influential players, the team will make do with some young players.
Away from the top teams, it is also happening down the ladder where teams are jostling for survival.
Troubled Motor Action host a resurgent Triangle at Motor Action Sports Club. The Mighty Bulls coach Joey Antipas will be counting on his youth brigade which gave a lot of reason to believe in the last league match against Dynamos.
The team acquired a number of players from Aces Youth Academy during the transfer window.
“The young players have been putting in a lot of hard work. During the break we trained continuously and had some practise matches. All we have to do is carry on from where we left against Dynamos. If we can get the three points, it would be a big relief,” said Antipas.
“Our chances against Triangle are even. We are all coming from the break and the team which is more prepared will pull through.”
Triangle coach Gishon Ntini said they would be banking on their better record when playing away. The team has dropped a lot of points at Gibo. Before the break, they let slip a 2-0 lead to share spoils with Black Rhinos.
The Lowveld team, in the last seven matches, have won four times, drew twice and lost just once.
The newboys have acquired during the transfer window nomadic Norman Togara, former Motor Action player Misheck Mburayi and Walter Makanda from Chicken Inn.
“Obviously, the break has been too long but it affected all teams and might slightly slow down the expectations and performance. We expect to get three points but we have to work hard. And nothing is impossible in football,” said Ntini.
“We are playing well. It will be an advantage for us since we are playing away from home. We do well away and we have equal chances as the home team.”
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Fixtures
Wednesday: Motor Action v Triangle (Motor Action Sports Club), Black Rhinos v Shabanie Mine (Rimuka), Buffaloes v Chicken Inn (Sakubva), Highlanders v Monomotapa (Barbourfields), Harare City v Dynamos (Rufaro), Hwange v FC Platinum (Colliery)
Thursday: How Mine v Black Mambas (Luveve), CAPS United v Tripple B (National Sports Stadium)