TWO teams which met with contrasting fortunes over the weekend in the Castle Lager Premiership — Caps United and FC Platinum — clash in the biggest match of Week 27 at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
Caps United lost 1-2 to Triangle on Sunday at Gibbo, a day after their players almost boycotted the trip to the Lowveld due to unpaid allowances and winning bonuses and in the process failed to close the gap on Dynamos who drew 1-1 against Chapungu.
The Green Machine also failed to move into second place after ZPC Kariba was disconnected 2-0 by Platinum on Saturday to take Pure Platinum Play’s unbeaten run in the league to four matches (10 points from a possible 12).
Platinum, unlike Caps who arrived in the Lowveld in the dead of the night, were in Harare early yesterday ahead of today’s match and are clearly sniffing a Mbada Diamonds Cup place as they are playing with renewed vigour under Norman Mapeza.
They drew 0-0 against Dynamos, beat Buffaloes 2-1, Harare City 2-0 before the weekend’s defeat of ZPC to move into fourth place with 41 points. Caps are on 45, ZPC on 47 while Dynamos, on 50, lead the standings with four league matches to go.
Caps lost the reverse fixture 1-2 at Mandava Stadium on a day they were forced to wear gold colours and will be itching for revenge as they seek their best finish since 2005. The Green Machine could be without Hardlife Zvirekwi.
Platinum welcome back Zambian international Aaron Katebe who was excused for the game against ZPC Kariba last Saturday after receiving a call-up to the Chipolopolo national team for their international friendly against Ivory Coast.
Caps’ last home match produced a sound 4-0 whipping of Highlanders and if they can put their inhouse problems aside — at least for 90 minutes — an exhilarating match is on the cards.
Caps fans pelted their players with water bottles on Sunday at Gibbo Stadium, accusing them of being paid to lose matches.
Second-placed ZPC Kariba return to their adopted home Gwanzura Stadium to take on Moses Chunga’s Buffaloes in what is expected to be a classical match. Buffaloes won 3-2 last week at home against Harare City while ZPC were beaten by Platinum and need to bounce back.
In other matches, Shabanie Mine continue their relegation dogfight against How Mine at Maglas Stadium today having picked up six points from their last two matches. Jairos Tapera’s men have 32 and lie in 12th place and maximum points this afternoon will take them to relative safety.
Kelvin Kaindu will be at Hartsfield Rugby Grounds today with his new side Triangle (13th place and 30 points) as they battle a Chicken Inn side that is targeting a top-four finish and a place in the season ending Mbada Diamonds Cup.
Chapungu (10th place and 33 points) will all but confirm their place in the PSL next season if they defeat troubled Bantu Rovers at Ascot Stadium in Gweru.
Chiredzi return home to face Black Rhinos and should Gishon Ntini’s men win this one, they will send the army side back to the Northern Region Division One league. Rhinos are in 14th place with 28 points and need the points more than Chiredzi after throwing away two points in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Hwange.
Week 27 Today
Harare City vs Dynamos (Rufaro), Shabanie Mine vs How Mine (Maglas), Chicken Inn vs Triangle (Hartsfield), Chapungu vs Bantu Rovers (Ascot), Chiredzi vs Black Rhinos (Gibbo), Caps United vs FC Platinum (NSS), Hwange vs Highlanders (Colliery), ZPC Kariba vs Buffaloes (Gwanzura)
Saturday: How Mine vs Chapungu (Hartsfield), Harare City v ZPC Kariba (Rufaro, SS), FC Platinum v Chicken Inn FC (Mandava)
Sunday: Buffaloes v Caps United (Sakubva), Triangle v Hwange (Gibbo), Highlanders v Chiredzi (Hartsfield), Dynamos v Bantu Rovers (Rufaro, SS), Black Rhinos v Shabanie Mine(Rimuka)