HARARE – Harare City have the 2013 Castle Premiership title destiny firmly in their hands after Sunday’s master class destruction of Highlanders.
The Sunshine Boys registered an emphatic 4-0 win over the Bulawayo giants at Rufaro Stadium courtesy of Nathan Ziwini’s brace and a goal apiece from Silas Songani and William Manondo.
City now have 53 points and enjoy a two point lead over second-placed Dynamos and third-placed Highlanders.
With only one game to go before the season ends, Bigboy Mawiwi’s men need to beat CAPS United at the National Spots Stadium this weekend to win their first league title in only their second year in the Premiership.
A win over CAPS will take City’s total points tally to 56 and will land them the title since DeMbare and Bosso can only amass 54 points if they win their matches against Black Mambas and Shabanie Mine respectively.
Recent history is also in City’s favour if you consider how the local championship has been decided in the past.
In the last three years, the destiny of the title has been settled on the last day of the season and the team that goes into week 30 sitting on top of the table has been crowned champions.
Last year, Dynamos went into the last round of matches sitting on the summit of the log with 68 points while Highlanders was second with 66 points.
The Glamour Boys could only draw 1-1 with the already relegated Hardbody in Gweru but it was enough to land them a second title on the trot.
Although Highlanders beat Blue Rangers 3-0 away in Harare, it was too little too late because DeMbare had a healthy goal difference of +43 compared to Bosso’s +34.
It was a similar case in 2011, and this time it was Dynamos and the newly promoted FC Platinum who went toe to toe for the title.
In the penultimate game of the season, DeMbare beat the platinum miners 1-0 courtesy of Daniel Veremu’s own goal in Zvishavane to go top of the table.
Both teams went into their last games of the season tied on 55 points but DeMbare had a better goal difference.
Nothing changed much on the afternoon on the final day of the season as Dynamos went on to beat Kiglon 2-0 at Rufaro while across town Platinum defeated Shooting Stars 3-1.
In the end, Dynamos won the title by just four goals as they ended the season tied on 58 points with FC Platinum.
In 2010, it was another intriguing title race between Motor Action and Dynamos but most significantly, the Mighty Bulls, who went into the final round on top of the log, were crowned champions.
Motor Action and Dynamos were tied on 63 points going into the week 30, but the Mighty Bulls were top of the log courtesy of a healthy goal difference.
Eric Rosen’s side were crowned champions after they beat Lengthens 3-1 at Motor Action Sports Club while Dynamos could only win 1-0 over Black Mambas at Morris Depot.
The Mighty Bulls won the league on goal difference as they had four more goals than DeMbare.
Another factor that could aid the Sunshine Boys’ title quest is the fact that they are playing CAPS United in their last game.
In their last two matches against Black Rhinos and Monomotapa, United have used some of their fringe players, who have struggled to get into coach Taurai Mangwiro’s starting XI this season.
Players such as Terrence Gonzo, Blessing Zabula, Dominic Mukandi, Gift Phiri, Jorum Muchambo and Tinovimba Muswe have all been given game time in the last few weeks.
It highly unlikely that Mangwiro will field his strongest XI against City this weekend if you look at his team selection in that last two matches.
However, fringe players have a habit of exceeding expectations as they would like to prove a strong point to their coach that they deserve a regular starting place.
City will be foolish to underrate what would look like a weak CAPS line-up on paper because they might be in for a surprise.