THE top five Castle Lager Premier Soccer League teams, led by championship pacesetters Ngezi Platinum Stars made sure that they kept their title hopes alive by collecting maximum points at the weekend.
Ngezi Platinum Stars
The others in the top five are Highlanders, FC Platinum, Manica Diamonds and Dynamos .
With 13 rounds of matches played so far, the 2023 Premiership season is proving to be very competitive, with five points separating tabletoppers Ngezi Platinum Stars on 26 points and fifth placed Dynamos.
Just a point separates Ngezi Platinum Stars from Bosso who are on second position while defending champions FC Platinum seem to have struck the right chord as they are third with 24 points.
Bosso made sure that they kept breathing down the neck of Ngezi Platinum Stars as they turned up the first half heat to come from a goal down and beat Caps United 2-1 at Barbourfields Stadium.
Highlanders had striker Lynoth Chikuhwa cancelling a Joseph Tulani lead for Caps United before defensive midfielder Melikhaya Ncube wrapped it up for Bosso.
Highlanders remain the only unbeaten team after 13 games and on Sunday, their coach Baltemar Brito showed some tactical masterclass when his side went on an offensive first half mode before switching to some immaculate defensive style to contain Caps United who also gave a good account.
Winger McKinnon Mushore was the toast of the day for Highlanders, with attacking pintsized midfielders Ray Lunga and Elshamar Farasi proving to be thorns in the flesh for Caps United.
Former Warriors midfielder Tafadzwa “Fire” Rusike came in as a second half substitute for Caps United who were the home team to dictate the pace. Rusike showed flashes of brilliance in central midfield, switching play to either side with his cultured left-foot, reminding many what a brilliant player he was.
Unfortunately for Caps United, the defeat saw them sliding a place down the table to position nine, swapping places with Triangle United who needed a last minute winner from Russel Madamombe as they edged Cranborne Bullets 2-1.
Triangle United and Caps United are tied on 17 points.
While Ngezi Platinum Stars and Highlanders might have won their respective games, a big statement of intent that should get other teams’ attention was the big 2-0 win by champions FC Platinum against Chicken Inn. The Zvishavane side that has won four consecutive titles has firmly positioned itself for vying for a record fifth championship and their win against Chicken Inn who are also title hopefuls shows their pedigree.
Just like last season, FC Platinum were not at the top of the table at this point of the season as they kept within the touching distance, waiting for the other teams at the top to choke. By this time last season, FC platinum had amassed 22 points, sitting on position five and trailing then leaders Dynamos by eight points.
Chicken Inn were second on 27 points, followed by triangle who were on 24 points while Manica Diamonds were a point above FC Platinum after 13 games.
At the weekend, Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya and reigning Soccer Star of the Year Walter Musona powered FC Platinum to victory, denting Chicken Inn’s championship campaign.
Chicken Inn are not far off the mark as they are on position six, tied on 21 points with Dynamos who have a superior goal difference.
The weekend victory by FC Platinum sets their spirits high ahead of their next away game against fifth on the table Dynamos who edged Black Rhinos 2-1, a result that saved head coach Hebert Maruwa’s job.
At the tail end, Greenfuel moved two places up the table to position 15 following a 2-0 away win against Bulawayo Chiefs.
Nqobile Ndlovu and former Young Warriors captain Bukhosi Sibanda scored for the Rodwell Dhlakama coached Greenfuel that capitalised on the absence of Bulawayo Chiefs’ head coach Lizwe Sweswe.
The Bulawayo Chiefs gaffer was unhappy that the club released some of his players who include Kuda Musharu and William Stima without his consent.
Greenfuel leapfrogged Sheasham who were beaten 1-0 by Manica Diamonds and Simba Bhora who lost to Herentals 2-1.
Greenfuel are now tied on 13 points with 14th placed Cranborne Bullets.