By Ricky Zililo
In a season in which match officials have been under the spotlight for questionable refereeing, the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League should ensure fixtures involving championship and relegation-threatened teams are played simultaneously to create a level ground.
Log leaders Caps United, Chicken Inn and defending champions FC Platinum are all vying for the title, with only two points separating the Green Machine and second-placed Gamecocks and FC Platinum.
Caps United lead the table with 55 points, while Chicken Inn are tied on 53 points with FC Platinum, although the Gamecocks have a better goal difference.
At the tail end, eight sides, Triangle United, Harare City, TelOne, Herentals, Bulawayo Chiefs, Hwange, Yadah and Mushowani Stars are fighting for survival.
Just two points separate Triangle, who are on 37 points and in 11th place, with fourth from the bottom Bulawayo Chiefs, who occupy the last relegation slot.
There has been lots of excitement at all matches involving the championship and relegation sides.
But has PSL been fair in fixturing championship chasing teams?
Caps United played their last two games, against ZPC Kariba and Yadah, 24 hours after Chicken Inn and FC Platinum had been in action.
Although some people believe playing later exerts pressure, others felt it gave them an unfair advantage, as they played knowing the results of their rivals.
Against ZPC Kariba, Caps United came from a goal down to win the encounter 2-1, and on Sunday they blew a golden opportunity to open a four-point lead by surrendering a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Yadah.
A football administrator, who declined to be named, said: “A dilemma that continues to haunt local football is lack of facilities, as most teams share stadiums and it becomes difficult to have games played simultaneously. However, this doesn’t mean the PSL can’t fixture these teams eyeing the championship or survival at the same time. We’ve seen some poor officiating and reports of some teams even giving opposition players money to influence results. This stage of the season is delicate and PSL should be on the lookout.”
In the past, the PSL used to have the championship matches played simultaneously, especially the last two games of the season.
The PSL could not commit to the possibility of playing matches simultaneously, saying the final fixtures are yet to be released.
Meanwhile, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum drew their respective matches, with the Gamecocks sharing the spoils with Hwange in a match that ended 1-1, while the platinum miners were held to a goalless draw by Highlanders.
Chiefs sunk into the relegation zone following a 1-0 away defeat to Manica Diamonds, while Herentals’ 2-0 win against Mushowani Stars moved them out of the relegation zone because of a superior goal difference. Herentals and Chiefs are tied on 35 points.
TelOne moved a point clear of relegation courtesy of their 2-0 home win over Triangle United, while Harare City took their points tally to 37 after playing to a 2-2 draw with ZPC Kariba.
Saturday: TelOne 2-0 Triangle United, Chicken Inn 1-1 Hwange, Herentals 2-0 Mushowani Stars, Ngezi Platinum Stars 0-0 Chapungu, FC Platinum 0-0 Highlanders
Sunday: Manica Diamonds 1-0 Bulawayo Chiefs, Dynamos 0-0 Black Rhinos, Yadah 2-2 Caps United, ZPC Kariba 2-2 Harare City. The Chronicle