By Ricky Zililo/Allen Khumalo
Bulawayo Chiefs aim to collect at least four points from their remaining four games to escape the Castle Lager Premiership axe.
This afternoon Chiefs host Shabanie Mine, who sealed their Division One fate last Sunday when they lost 0-1 to Harare City.
They head into today’s home game bubbling with confidence following their “big” 1-0 win over former champions Chicken Inn to go to 35 points, three points above the relegation zone. Nichrut are on 32 points and occupy the last relegation slot.
Chiefs’ technical analyst Thulani Sibanda is of the view that at least 39 points will guarantee them of safety.
“With some teams in the relegation bracket yet to play each other, I think if we get at least four points from the remaining four games, we will survive relegation. It won’t be easy, but we have to fight harder for our survival,” Sibanda said.
Despite facing a side whose relegation has already been confirmed, Sibanda said today’s match was as important as any other.
“This is going to be a tricky encounter for us. If you look at our statistics, we have been good when playing against big teams, but when it comes to the so-called small teams, we have a poor record. We are not going to let our win over Chicken Inn get us to treat Shabanie any differently. They are also looking for a win as much as we are, so this game is very important for us as we fight for survival,” said Sibanda.
After today’s match, Chiefs will be left with difficult encounters in their fight for survival with games against Ngezi Platinum Stars, Highlanders and ZPC Kariba.
Chiefs will be hoping to complete a double over Ngezi and Highlanders after beating them by similar 1-0 score lines in the reverse fixtures.
Other teams involved in the relegation fight with Chiefs are Yadah (on 35 points), former champions Dynamos (37), and Chapungu (34).
Yadah have a tough game against Caps United, who are seeking a win following back-to-back defeats to Dynamos and ZPC Kariba. Yadah’s next game will be at home to Bulawayo City followed by an away trip to Chapungu before they finish the season against Harare City.
Chapungu are at home to Highlanders, while Nichrut are away to Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium.
Dynamos take on Herentals tomorrow and host Triangle United in their next game followed by an encounter with Division One-bound Mutare City Rovers and Nichrut.
Chapungu wrecked Ngezi Platinum Stars’ championship hopes by holding them to a goalless draw last Saturday and will face ZPC Kariba, Highlanders and Yadah before capping their season away to Caps United.
The next four games will be tough for Nichrut who lost their last league match 1-0 at home to defending champions FC Platinum. They face wounded Black Rhinos, who are licking their wounds from a controversial 1-2 defeat by Dynamos, before facing Herentals and Triangle. They end their season against Dynamos.
Bulawayo City and Mutare City will both be relegated if Chapungu win or draw against Highlanders.
Matchday 31 Fixtures
Today: Harare City v Ngezi Platinum Stars (Rufaro), FC Platinum v Chicken Inn (Mandava), Bulawayo Chiefs v Shabanie Mine (Luveve), Caps United v Yadah (National Sports Stadium), Triangle United v Mutare City Rovers (Gibbo)
Tomorrow: Herentals v Dynamos (Rufaro), Black Rhinos v Nichrut (National Sports Stadium), Chapungu v Highlanders (Ascot), Bulawayo City v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields) The Chronicle