BY KENNETH NYANGANI
MUSHOWANI STARS . . . . . . .0
CHICKEN INN . . . . . . . . . . .(0) 1;
MANICA DIAMONDS . . . . . . .0
FC PLATINUM . . . . . . . . . . (1) 2
Chicken Inn moved to the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League at least for 24 hours after beating Mushowani Stars at Trojan Mine yesterday, to blow the title race wide open again.
Innocent Mucheneka scored the all-important goal, which will keep the 2015 league champions top of the standings until Caps United play their match this afternoon.
If Caps United beat ZPC Kariba at Rufaro Stadium today, they will reclaim the top post with just four games remaining.
Any other result in today’s match will see the Joey Antipas-coached side maintaining their position at the summit, and with a very good chance of snatching the title away.
Chicken Inn have 52 points, the same number of points as second-placed FC Platinum, whom they edge on goal difference.
United have 51 points, but have a game in hand.
At Vengere Stadium yesterday, champions FC Platinum put their title challenge back on track after a comfortable win over Manica Diamonds.
After a surprise defeat to Bulawayo Chiefs at the weekend, FC Platinum desperately needed this victory to keep pace with rivals, and they didn’t take time to assert their dominance in the match when Gift Mbweti scored the opener 16 minutes into the match.
Reigning Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere sealed the win with a wonder strike just after the hour mark.
Coach Lizwe Sweswe was excited by the win, which put his side back on course of defending their title for the third time.
“It was a crucial win against a good side,” he said.
“We are now back on track to win the title, but I believe the race is now wide open. What we only need to do now is to win our remaining four matches and see what happens at the end. We just to continue to work hard and taking each game as it comes.”
Manica Diamonds gaffer Johannes Nhumwa was disappointed with the defeat, but believed they were safe from relegation threat.
“I am disappointed with the defeat, but I believe that we will survive relegation. We are hoping to collect maximum points in our remaining matches,” he said.
Manica Diamonds were the first to probe, with Last Jesi causing anxious moments for the Zvishavane-based side.
Jesi controlled the midfield department and almost gave his side a lead after five minutes into the match, but his low shot was saved by the impressive goalkeeper Francis Tizayi.
However, FC Platinum refused to be cowed into submission and they were duly rewarded in the 16th minute through former Hwange player Mbweti.
After the goal, play switched from one end to another, with FC Platinum stoutly defending their slender lead going to the breather.
Chinyengetere then ended any hopes of Manica Diamonds getting an equaliser when he fired a hard and low shot from a tight angle.
He almost scored again late in the match as the visitors threatened to run away with the match.