Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
COACH, Norman Mapeza has admitted that his FC Platinum side is “limping” despite being able to hold on to pole position in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title race.
The Zvishavane-based side picked up a crucial point on the road when they drew 1-1 with Highlanders on Sunday.
The point took the defending champions’ points tally to 28 from 14 games and they now enjoy a two-point lead over second-placed Chicken Inn, who were beaten 2-1 by Hwange. The defeat was Chicken Inn’s fourth of the season, their struggle for consistency again on display.
With the Gamecocks breathing down the champions’ neck, Mapeza praised his players for collecting points during a difficult period and staying top of the table.
“It is clear, we are limping. It is a very difficult situation at the moment. The guys are working very hard. It is about character and fighting for each other. I am happy the boys are pushing and we are still on top.
“The Caf Champions League starts in August if we are to start that in this situation l foresee disaster. Last week we had just 13 players available and Sunday we had three youngsters from the under-19s. It is not easy at all,” Mapeza said.
FC Platinum are going through a player crisis and are short of players following the expiry of several contracts with some players going for trials, a situation that forced them to play with only 13 players in their game against Manica Diamonds a fortnight ago. They won that game 1-0.
In Sunday’s game, FC Platinum had three developmental players Hagiazo Magaya, Keith Madera and Panashe Mutimbanyoka on the bench as cover for absent players.
Some of the key players missing in action for the champions include veteran forward Mkhokheli Dube, Raphael Muduviwa, Ali Sadiki and Petros Mhari.
The Moyo twins, Kelvin and Elvis, are now with Chippa United. Godknows Murwira, who is said to be trying to force his way out of the platinum miners, is believed to be in Harare.
Caps United ended a four-match winless run with a convincing 2-0 victory over Yadah.
It was a sweet return to action for Lloyd Chitembwe who had missed the last two games due to illness. Caps are now third with 26 points from 14 games.
Bulawayo giants Highlanders are just three points away from the relegation bracket despite going for three games without a loss, having beaten Dynamos 1-0 before posting identical 1-1 draws with Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum.
Goals continue to elude the Bulawayo giants despite impressive displays. Goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda is the club’s top-goal scorer with four goals, a clear indication of how the team has been impotent in front of goal.
At the bottom of the table, Bulawayo Chiefs picked up a vital three points with a victory over Manica Diamonds as they aim to stage yet another miraculous relegation survival.
Caps United 2-0 Yadah; Triangle United 2-1 TelOne; Mushowani Stars 1-1 Herentals; Hwange 2-1 Chicken Inn; Highlanders 1-1 FC Platinum; Bulawayo Chiefs 1-0 Manica Diamonds; Chapungu 0-0 Ngezi Platinum; Black Rhinos 1-1 Dynamos; Harare City 0-0 ZPC Kariba. — @innocentskizoe