League preview with Anesu Chakanetsa
WEEK three of the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (PSL) match-ups promises a lot of drama.
Most of the fixtures are competing teams which are tied on head-to-head in all the league matches they have played against each other.
However, the match of the week, pitting Highlanders (Bosso) and FC Platinum over the past decade has been one-sided yet it continues to pull crowds.
Highlanders has failed to beat FC Platinum at Emagumeni (Barbourfields Stadium) for the past nine years, and it’s a record they would want to break.
In their last match in October last year, Highlanders were beaten at home by 3-2 by the platinum miners in a tightly contested match, also with tightly planted security details.
The fixture has, indeed, been a bone of contention to the extent of potential violence.
It is becoming one of the ‘deadliest’ fixtures in Zimbabwean football.
In April last year, Highlanders were fined US$6 000 after their fans invaded the Mandava Stadium pitch when they felt that referee Kuzivakwamwari Jaravaza wrongly awarded FC Platinum a penalty in the 85th minute after Peter Muduhwa had pulled down Walter Musona.
The match was tied 1-1.
After a disciplinary hearing, FC Platimum was awarded three goals and three points while Highlanders was fined.
Overwhelming evidence reveal violent scenes on this match-up largely happen more in Zvishavane than in Bulawayo.
On Sunday, however, Highlanders need to focus on breaking the voodoo than to rely on the referee’s decisions.
The team has a record of being the current biggest crowd puller which adds flavour to Zimbabwean football.
But it becomes bad when violence breaks out.
McKinnon Mushore, elder brother to Mason Mushore, a prodigy from Bosso 90 who scored the winner against Black Rhinos last week, is the man to watch.
He is a tricky customer, slippery and creates a lot of chances.
The match will be played at Emagumeni.
Meanwhile, the seven million supporters seem to be rising up like Ezekiel’s dry bones in the valley after their team, Dynamos, stormed to the summit of the PSL log standings after routing new boys Sheasham 4-0.
Tomorrow they face yet another newly promoted team, Simba Bhora, at the 60 000 sitter National Sports Stadium (NSS).
Simba Bhora have been struggling since the beginning of the season after losing their two opening matches against FC Platinum (2-1) and Chicken Inn (0-1).
Yet the match against Dynamos already looks like a dreaded derby, or a grudge match.
In an off-season operation clean-up, Dynamos sacked coach Tonderai Ndiraya and team manager Isaiah Mupfurutsa who were all called to duty by Simba Bhora.
Players like Patson Jaure, Keith Murera and Ali Sadiki followed suit.
Situations like these are not new to Dynamos.
Almost 20 years ago, a team called Shooting Stars, upon their promotion, hijacked almost all Dynamos players and staff.
It was a major shake-up for the Glamour Boys but they survived while, later on, Shooting Stars plummeted down to oblivion.
A deadly DeMbare combination of Ghanaian Emmanuel Paga, Denver Mukamba, Tanaka ‘Kante’ Shandirwa and Tendai Matindife is proving deadly for opponents.
And the captain, Frank Makarati, is as cool-headed as an exemplary captain at the centre of defence.
It proves to be a tight situation for former Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya.
This afternoon, Herentals take on Manica Diamonds at the NSS.
These teams have an equal record of points and goal differences in all the matches they have played since 2019.
In 2019, they drew in the first leg but Manica won 1-0 in the second leg.
In 2022 Herentals won 2-1 in the first leg but drew 1-1 in the second leg.
So, this is an encounter difficult to predict for punters and pundits alike.
To make matters, worse they all have drawn and lost respectively in their first two league matches this season.
Bulawayo Chiefs and Black Rhinos play tomorrow and they have also tightly contested past match-ups where both have played six times, won two and drawn two times. In 2018, they drew 1-1 and 0-0 in the first and second legs. In 2019, they both won 1-0 in reverse fixtures and in 2022, it was the same but the score line was 2-1.
Who will break this trend tomorrow?
Triangle and Ngezi Platinum, which play on Sunday at Gibbo Stadium, also have a tie in their match ups.
They have played 10 league matches, won four, drawn two and lost four.
Last season they both won 1-0 each in reverse fixtures.
What a weekend of ties ahead!
Cranborne Bullets play Chicken Inn FC at Baobab Stadium tomorrow where Chicken Inn, also coming from a win against Simba Bhora, has a bigger advantage.
The ‘Gamecocks’ (Chicken Inn) won both two ties against the Bullets last season.
CAPS United have everything to fight for on Sunday against ZPC Kariba, a team that beat them in all the two legs last season.
CAPS United, which became the first log leaders of the season, are coming from a disappointing draw against Ngezi Platinum and hope to regain their winning form.
Hwange take on Green Fuels for the first time in the league in Bulawayo at Luveve Stadium on Sunday.