By Eddie Chikamhi
CAPS United’s six-week reign at the top of the Castle Lager Premiership football table faces a serious threat this afternoon when nearest rivals FC Platinum host relegation-haunted Bulawayo Chiefs. Makepekepe, who ascended to the summit when they edged Harare City 1-0 on September 18, have enjoyed a fine run under coach Darlington Dodo.
But they dropped crucial points in the last two outings which saw their lead being slashed from five points to just two ahead of a tricky visit to Rahman Gumbo’s TelOne at Ascot tomorrow.
“It’s a must-win game for us, so we must make sure that we prepare fully and go and win the match. It’s always difficult (against relegation-haunted teams). They are unpredictable and they have more of the same pressure like you have when you are at the top.
“They can do anything for them to grind results. But with the position that we are in, we need to stamp authority on the game, to show why we are there. We need to have good ball retention,” said Dodo.
Makepekepe are still trying to make sense of the previous two outings which saw their impressive four-match winning streak coming to an end.
There were signs of distress after the defeat to Chicken Inn and the home draw against Herentals. Makepekepe dropped five points in the last two games and the race is wide open again with six games remaining in the season.
“It was not really the game that we had wanted to play, to be honest, and I think we gave away two points that we were supposed to have gained in order to maintain the lead that we had,” said Dodo after the lifeless stalemate against Herentals.
The absence of injured players such as Method Mwanjali and Kudzai Nyamupfukudza is being felt in defence. Dodo might be forced to make changes again tomorrow to stabilise the shaky rearguard.
“As much as I don’t want to sound like a cry-baby, I think we have some injured players who have played a big part in the team during the season and when some of these players that have not been playing come in, they are bound to make mistakes.
“There is a lot that is bound to happen to the dynamics of the team in terms of those changes. So I think the injuries are playing a big part in the way we are playing.
“But everything being equal, we are not bad. We can still regroup and get the result that we want. It’s just that we need to work more and also the games are coming thick and fast, so we may not have time to work on those adjustments,” said Dodo.
CAPS United have 51 points, while FC Platinum moved to 49 points with the midweek win over Ngezi Platinum Stars.
FC Platinum coach Lizwe Sweswe reckons they may end up as overnight leaders if they win against Chiefs today and would be eager to keep it that way until the very last match of the season when they face off with Makepekepe.
“From the look of things, we have to approach every game that we play in a positive manner. We have to try and keep the momentum because at this stage of the season there should be no room for slip ups. But we also reckon that playing a team like Bulawayo Chiefs, who are fighting relegation, is not an easy task.
“It’s almost the same as playing a team that is at the top of the table because they can do anything just for the maximum points. So we are aware of this and we have tried to prepare accordingly,” said Sweswe. The Herald
Ngezi Platinum Stars v Manica Diamonds (Baobab)
FC Platinum v Bulawayo Chiefs (Mandava)
Herentals v Harare City (NSS)
Dynamos v Highlanders (Rufaro)
Yadah v Chapungu (NSS)
ZPC Kariba v Black Rhinos (Nyamhunga)
TelOne v CAPS United (Ascot)
Hwange v Mushowani Stars (Colliery)
Chicken Inn v Triangle United (Luveve)