Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE curtain comes down for the 2019 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League with both the championship and relegation race going to the wire.
The important matches with a bearing to both the title race and survival battle will be played today while
Black Rhinos and Manica Diamonds who are safe and only competing for a top eight finish will be in action tomorrow.
Some have rightfully termed today’s matches as “Armageddon”, judgment day as the winner will be decided at the end of this afternoon’s programme. The two teams that will join already axed Mushowani Stars and Hwange will also be known today.
The biggest match is the top of the table clash between log leaders and defending champions FC Platinum who face 2016 winners Caps United at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
Caps United need the Soccer Star of the Year Joel Ngodzo to turn up his magic and give his strikers John Zhuwawu, Dominic Chungwa or Newman Sianchali clean supply of balls because they need an outright win.
The platinum miners are on 59 points, one ahead of Caps United and head into today’s clash with less pressure as they need at least a draw to win their third consecutive title.
Winning the championship will see the PSL league cup being kept permanently at FC Platinum’s offices in Zvishavane, becoming the first out-of-Harare and Bulawayo side to do so after Highlanders and Dynamos in the modern Premiership.
Coached by Lizwe Sweswe, FC Platinum will bank on midfielders Never Tigere, Devon Chafa, Kelvin Madzongwe and Rainsome Pavari to create and even score in this title decider.
Away from the title race, equally interesting matches are on the cards at the tail-end where six teams, Yadah and Herentals both tied on 38 points, Chapungu on 39 points, TelOne and Harare City on 40 points and Bulawayo Chiefs who are on 41 points are fighting for survival.
Two out of the six clubs will be axed.
Chiefs, who are three points above their opponents Herentals who occupy the last relegation slot, need at least a draw to secure the Premiership slot for 2020 season at Luveve Stadium this afternoon.
Only a win can save Herentals who appeared before the league’s disciplinary hearing on Thursday to answer charges of match-fixing.
Third from bottom of the table Yadah could stage a dramatic escape in the event that they beat relegated Mushowani Stars in Bindura and hope that Herentals, Chapungu, Harare City and TelOne lose.
A draw for TelOne and Harare City who face Chicken Inn and Ngezi Platinum Stars respectively, will condemn Yadah to first division even if they win against Mushowani Stars as they have a negative goal difference of -13.
Chicken Inn, sniffing a second pole position finish are a tough hurdle for TelOne who were held to a 1-1 draw by Hwange on Wednesday.
Harare City, bubbling with confidence following Wednesday’s 3-1 win against Dynamos face Ngezi Platinum Stars who literally made life difficult for Caps United who they beat 3-2.
Chapungu are in a fix as they also need an outright win against wounded Highlanders who will be keen to end the season on a high following a shock 1-0 defeat to Chiefs at Barbourfields Stadium on Wednesday.
Today: Caps United v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium), Mushowani Stars v Yadah (Trojan Mine), Hwange v ZPC Kariba (Colliery), Triangle United v Dynamos (Gibbo), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot), Harare City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Rufaro), Chicken Inn v TelOne (Barbourfields), Bulawayo Chiefs v Herentals (Luveve)
Tomorrow: Black Rhinos v Manica Diamonds (national Sports Stadium)