By Mukudzei Chingwere
Chapungu might have taken a key step in their battle against relegation but their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League triumph over Shabanie Mine at Ascot yesterday had far- reaching consequences as it forced ailing giants Dynamos into the drop zone.
Rarely has a result of a match involving Chapungu and Shabanie attracted so much interest but the outcome of the game impacted on DeMbare’s log standings amid growing concerns that the country’s biggest club could be sliding into the abyss, triggered by what is increasingly becoming a distinct possibility that they could be demoted.
When news filtered from Ascot that Rodwell Dhlakama’s airmen had overcome basement side Shabanie, it meant that they had pushed Dynamos into the drop zone.
Former Harare City defensive midfielder James Jam, scoring his first goal for Chapungu, grabbed the priceless goal just after the hour mark to ensure the airmen jumped from 15th place to 11th.
They even leapfrogged Yadah Stars, who are only in action against ZPC Kariba at Rufaro today as well the pair of Bulawayo Chiefs and Nichrut who fought a 1-1 draw in their relegation battle Luveve yesterday.
Dynamos with 31 points now occupy the last of the relegation slots on the 18-team log.
The Harare giants, who on Saturday fell 2-0 to leaders FC Platinum at Mandava, have for the better part of this year championship campaign flirted with relegation leading to the club’s chiefs sacrificing coach Lloyd Mutasa as they sought answers to their woes.
Yesterday’s sequence of results did not do Dynamos any favours either as it left them occupying the last spot in the drop zone as they have lost 11 of their 28 games so far.
As pressure continues to mount on them Dynamos know they must now win the game they have in hand over their fellow regelation candidates – a tough Harare derby against CAPS United that has suffered a number of postponements due to varying reasons.
Yet in yesterday’s match at Ascot, Shabanie who have a paltry 18 points contained their hosts early in the match restricting Chapungu to long range shots which were often wayward.
It was after the second half introduction of veteran striker Phillip Marufu that helped to unlock the Shabanie defence with the former Dynamos man making an immediate impact when cutting the ball for into the path of Jam who slotted home with a low shot outside the box.
Dhlakama maintained his men would not be relegated but insisted the job is far from being done.
“We do not need to be carried away by this win, if we lose our next game and other teams in the relegation zone win we might go down.
“Like I have said we will not be relegated but we need to continue working hard, we have difficult games coming and we just need to remain focused,” Dhlakama said.
“We were playing a derby and the world over these kind of matches are always difficult.
“It was a difficult game for us but I am very happy we managed to get all three points and the guys showed that they can handle pressure as we go into the last games of the season,” said Dhlakama.
Shabanie arrived at Ascot 30 minutes before kick-off and coach Alexio Sigion believes this could have also largely contributed to their downfall.
“The issue of relegation is no longer in our hands we just have to push hard and hope other teams above us lose so we can survive but as a team we need to work hard.
“We did not have enough time to warm up but that is not an excuse for this loss. What I am saying is that if we had managed to get more time for warm-up the players would have been better prepared,” said Sigion.
Chapungu: T. Shumba, E. Chitauro, H. Mugoniwa, C. Kwaramba, B. Mbavarira, J. Jam, E. Muzanenhamo, I. Nyoni, O. Mukuradare (A. Tavarwisa, 47th min), R. Manuvire (P. Marufu 61st min), C. Rupiya (E. Chirape. 89th min)
Shabanie Mine: B. Temera, P. Muzondo, N. Mpofu, B. Mukundu, F. Muza, R. Sibanda, W. Kahuni (P. Siziba, 68th min), J. Sibanda, D. Taderera, T. Dhlakama (N. Papias. 51st min), R. Pakamisa. The Herald