By Sheldon Hakata
THE exciting 2019 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) race enters Week 8 with the battle for honours steadily taking shape after high riding CAPS United continued with their unbeaten streak by climbing to the summit of the log.
The revamped Harare giants remain the only team yet to taste defeat in the topflight this season, having amassed an impressive 16 points from six games.
It is the manner in which the ‘Green Machine’, as CAPS United are affectionately known, are dismantling their opponents that has left pundits putting their bets on the Harare giants reclaiming the title they last won in 2016 odds on favourites.
The Green Machine has been firing from all cylinders and statistics are speaking for themselves.
Despite scoring 11 goals, an average of two goals per match, CAPS United have conceded just two goals.
They boast the strongest defence in the PSL.
Last Sunday, they overcame one of their biggest test by dispatching a spirited Triangle at Gibbo Stadium 2-1.
The 2018 Soccer Star finalist, Joel Ngodzo, who has been enjoying a rich vein of form scored in the 15th minute while gunslinger Domnic Chungwa put the final nail in the 85th minute to silence the Gibbo fans.
Triangle have failed to win in three successive matches; falling at home to Chapungu, away to Black Rhinos and, latest, to CAPS United.
The third defeat on the trot has left the Taurai Mangwiro-coached ‘Sugar Boys’ in a lowly 13th place on the log, with seven points from seven games.
In a week that was characterised by mixed results, forgotten giants Dynamos notched their second successive victory with reigning champions FC Platinum slumping to a shock one-nil defeat at the hands of exciting new boys TelOne, while Bulawayo giants Highlanders were mauled 3-nil by a supercharged Chicken Inn.
So unpredictable has been this season that premiership debutants are running circles around their seasoned opponents.
Reigning champions FC Platinum relinquished top spot after suffering their first defeat away to debutants TelOne, owing to a solitary goal from Elasto Chigora in the second half.
Premiership football new boys TelOne and Mushowani Stars proved they can compete against the very best in the elite league after the former beat defending champions FC Platinum 1-0 at Luveve Stadium and the latter got the better of Black Rhinos with a 2-0 score-line at Rufaro Stadium.
Zvishavane-based FC Platinum now occupy fourth place on the table, with 14 points from seven games.
Meanwhile, Manica Diamonds finally remembered how to win with a slender one-nil victory against Herentals to give them (Herentals) their second defeat of the season.
After an impressive run in their three matches against bigger opponents, Herentals failed to brush aside their guests who were coming from a two-match losing streak.
Manica Diamonds took their points to seven in six matches, while Herentals remain on seven points from as many encounters.
At Dynamos, after a disastrous start to the season under Lloyd Chigowe, new coach Tonderai ‘Stanza’ Ndiraya has managed to steady the ship in his third game.
Ndiraya took over last month and drew 1-1 away to TelOne before the 1-0 home win over ZPC Kariba.
The Harare giants continued from where they left off by getting the same score-line of 1-0 against Yadah to hand new coach Ndiraya a second win in three games.
Chapungu United, on the other hand, prevailed over their hosts Hwange through Allan Tavarwisa’s well-taken 65th minute goal.
This was the hosts’ first loss at home this season and their only other demise coming at the hands of defending champions FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium in what has been a remarkable start in the top-flight league.
In Bulawayo, the ‘Gamecocks’, Chicken Inn shot to second position on the log standings with 15 points from seven games after thrashing Highlanders 3-0 at Barbourfields Stadium.
All is not well in the Bosso camp, having now drawn four games, losing three in their opening seven matches and leaving them with a paltry four points.
Harare City, affectionately known as the ‘Sunshine Boys’, are winless in their last three matches and sit 14th on the log, only two points above relegation.
Castle Lager PSL fixtures.
FC Platinum vs ZPC Kariba (Mandava).
Black Rhinos vs Hwange (NSS).
Harare City vs Triangle (Rufaro).
Bulawayo Chiefs vs Dynamos (Barbourfields).
Ngezi Platinum Stars vs Yadah (Baobab).
Manica Diamonds vs TelOne (Gibbo).
Highlanders vs Herentials (Barbourfields).
Chapungu vs Chicken Inn (Mandava).
CAPS United vs Mushowani Stars (NSS).
All games start at 15hr unless otherwise stated.