By Sheldon Hakata
AMONG the accolades for the domestic league this season will be silverware, status and history; but the greatest prize awaiting all Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams is the champions trophy.
CAPS United’s Lloyd Chitembwe and Chicken Inn’s Joey Antipas have been singled-out as two of Zimbabwe’s best coaches after crafting teams that reflect their personalities.
Where CAPS United are thrilling and fearless, Chicken Inn are brave and unrelenting. However, appreciation should be accorded ‘Makepekepe’ (CAPS United) and Gamecocks (Chicken Inn) for nurturing new blood.
The most important thing is to build a team that is always going to challenge for honours.
Chicken last won the domestic championship in 2014.
The pressure on Chicken Inn may now be intense, not just for their past successes, but because of being tipped as favourites to wrestle the title from FC Platinum, especially after having already beaten former champions CAPS United 3-1 this season.
However, it is still early days yet because the league is tough, especially looking at a couple of years back where one could tell who was going down and who was challenging for the league.
This season could be tougher for seasoned campaigners.
Sunday’s game could largely be seen as an audition for Lloyd Chitembwe’s side in their pursuit of this year’s title.
After making his intentions to fight for this year’s title clear, CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe’s defeat to Joey Antipas proved a reality check for his charges to work even harder to achieve their dream.
CAPS United’s defence failed to stick to the basics, which eventually cost them.
Red-hot Clive Augusto made a statement of intent after putting the Green Machine to the cleaners with a well calculated hat-trick that took his tally to 11 goals from 10 matches.
After winning back-to-back championships, FC Platinum ended dominance of the PSL by traditional local football giants.
The Zvishavane-based platinum miners are scaling dizzy heights in the domestic league and have already shown the rest their intention to defend the crown to win a third on the trot.
Norman Mapeza’s side are on 20 points and trail log leaders Chicken Inn as well as second-placed CAPS United by just two points.
Football changes every time and so it is normal for a club to go through a rough patch.
In this campaign, Dynamos are way off the mark with 13 points from 10 matches.
Since their 2014 title, major silverware has eluded them.
Formed in 1963, Dynamos are Zimbabwe’s most successful football team with 21 league titles and various other trophies.
The Glamour Boys and Bosso (Highlanders) will remain the same – they are the biggest institutions in the country.
They are still in a rebuilding phase.
Having challenges is normal in football.
Zimbabwe football giants are currently going through testing times, but they are bound to bounce back so their huge following can cherish the good old days.
Tonderai Ndiraya’s reappointment as Dynamos coach was met with mixed reactions after inheriting a team that was low in confidence.
Most teams have left Mandava Stadium with tails between their legs, but Saturday’s 1-0 win over champions FC Platinum made many notice the work being done by ‘Stanza’ Ndiraya at Dynamos.
Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu collected maximum points against ZPC Kariba over the weekend.
Both teams’ victories is a sign that the reconstruction process is progressing well.
This weekend results will give the two Zimbabwean football giants confidence in the following games.
Herentals vs CAPS United (NSS)
Chicken Inn vs Harare City (Luveve)
ZPC Kariba vs Chapungu (Nyamhunga)
Yadah vs Highlanders (Rufaro)
Ngezi Platinum Stars vs FC Platinum (Baobab)
TelOne vs Black Rhinos (Luveve)
Hwange vs Triangle United (Colliery)
Mushowani Stars vs Bulawayo Chiefs (NSS)
Dynamos vs Manica Diamonds (Rufaro)
All games start at 15hr unless stated otherwise.