BANTU Rovers’ battle for Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) survival continues this weekend when they engage Chicken Inn in a Bulawayo derby at Hartsfield Rugby Grounds on Saturday.
They have done well in the local derbies so far beating How Mine 3-1 and Chicken Inn 2-1 before drawing against Highlanders and will go into Saturday’s match with their tails up.
Bantu are still to play Dynamos, Chicken Inn, Hwange and How Mine, and need to win all their matches in order to survive, which could prove an uphill task.
The Bulawayo side has a lot to lose if they are relegated this season as they “bought” their way into the Castle Lager PSL after failing for a couple of seasons to gain promotion from Division One.
The Methembe Ndlovu-owned side coughed up $40 000 for the Plumtree Chiefs franchise although the team’s executive downplayed it as a merger between the two.
This could be the second time that they opted to buy their way in, but got relegated soon after. In 2009 when they bought the Eastern Lions franchise, they survived relegation by a whisker that season, but failed to do the same in 2010 and went back to Division One.
Bantu Rovers have only one loss in the local derby and since Mandla Mpofu, who previously coached Chicken Inn, has taken over from Ndlovu they hope that they will collect maximum points.
Mpofu is now called an associate coach — the first of a kind in Zimbabwe. This, according to Bantu, means he is at the same level with Ndlovu.
The battle to survive rages on at the bottom of log with Bantu joining Black Rhinos, Shabanie Mine and Chiredzi in the fight against the drop.
Black Rhinos lead the race to survive with 27 points followed by Shabanie Mine at 26 points with Bantu Rovers on 17 points while Chiredzi anchor with 11.
The army side are the best placed team to survive relegation as they are tied on points with Triangle on 11th position and How Mine on 12th. A slip-up by How Mine or Triangle and win for Rhinos would help them push themselves out of the woods.
All four teams are still to play each other in the eight matches that remain.
Black Rhinos who beat Highlanders 1-0 and Harare City by the same scoreline in their last two league encounters will face ZPC Kariba this weekend who are itching for a good game after losing to How Mine 2-3 in the last match.
They have three seemingly tough assignments in their run up to surviving the chop against Caps United, Chicken Inn and Hwange, but are still to play relegation candidates Chiredzi, Shabanie Mine and Bantu Rovers.
With eight games remaining in the league, 24 points are up for grabs and being on 27 points they need at least 11 points to survive.
Shabanie Mine, who closely follow Black Rhinos, have a huge survival challenge ahead of them. They still have a match against Dynamos in Harare and will face How Mine and Highlanders.
Chiredzi also have tough encounters lined up against Highlanders, FC Platinum and How Mine.
Black Rhinos v ZPC Kariba (Away (A)), Caps United (Home (H)), Chicken Inn (A), Hwange (H), Chiredzi (A),
Shabanie Mine (H), Chapungu (A), Bantu Rovers (H)
Shabanie Mine v Chiredzi (A), Dynamos (A), Chapungu (H), Bantu Rovers (A), How Mine (H), Black Rhinos (A),
Highlanders (H), Triangle (A)
Bantu Rovers v Chicken Inn (A), Hwange (H), Chiredzi (A), Shabanie Mine (H), Chapungu (A), Dynamos (A), How Mine (H), Black Rhinos (A)
Chiredzi v Shabanie Mine (H), Chapungu (A), Bantu Rovers (H), How Mine (A), Black Rhinos (H), Highlanders (A),
Triangle (H), FC Platinum (A).