FULL Castle Lager Premier Soccer League action resumes this weekend after the international break, with focus on both the title chasing teams and the relegation fight.
Champions FC Platinum need 11 points from their last five games to retain the title and begin their quest in Gweru on Saturday against relegation-threatened Nichrut.
It’s an unpredictable encounter for both teams, with Nichrut on a four-match unbeaten run, while FC Platinum seek to end a three-match winless run on the road.
FC Platinum are on 65 points from 29 games, five points clear of second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars, and the Zvishavane-based side has picked up just a point from their last three away games. They lost 1-0 to Harare City, drew 1-1 with Black Rhinos and stumbled 3-1 to Triangle United at Gibbo.
Inconsistency on the road could prove costly for the table toppers and dropping points against Nichrut could see Ngezi closing the gap should they beat Chapungu at Baobab.
While FC Platinum worry about passing the Nichrut test, Ngezi begin life without coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who was fired with five games remaining.
Ndiraya was axed following his team’s shock 1-0 defeat away to Bulawayo City, a result that saw FC Platinum stretching their lead to five points.
Although Ngezi remain mathematically in the championship race with 15 points to play for, including a game against FC Platinum, Ngezi’s management felt Ndiraya had failed to deliver.
Ngezi and FC Platinum are set to clash on the penultimate weekend of the season, a match that could be the title decider in the event that the champions lose guard and drop points in their next three outings.
Before taking on Ngezi on Matchday 33, FC Platinum face Nichrut (away), former champions Chicken Inn (home) and Shabanie Mine. They end the season with a road trip to Bulawayo giants Highlanders.
On the other hand, Ngezi will travel to Harare City, host Bulawayo Chiefs, go to FC Platinum and cap the season with a home game against Black Rhinos.
Meanwhile, Harare giants Dynamos will be hoping to build on Sunday’s 2-1 win over Caps United when they host unpredictable Black Rhinos at Rufaro Stadium.
DeMbare are two points above relegation with 34 points and are aware that any slip up will see them in the drop zone again.
Chiefs have a tough assignment against Chicken Inn. They are a place above relegation tied on 32 points with Yadah, who occupy the last relegation spot.
Yadah are away to Division One-bound Mutare City Rovers.
Saturday: ZPC Kariba v Caps United (Nyamhunga), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Chapungu (Baobab), Nichrut v Platinum (Ascot), Chicken Inn v Bulawayo Chiefs (Luveve)
Sunday: Mutare City Rovers v Yadah (Vengere), Dynamos v Black Rhinos (Rufaro), Triangle United v Herentals (Gibbo), Highlanders v Bulawayo City (Barbourfields), Shabanie Mine v Harare City (Maglas)-NEWSDAY