HARARE – With the Castle Lager Premiership title race hurtling towards the end, one thing is now apparent; goal difference will likely play a major role in deciding the champions.
As things stand, four teams — Ngezi Platinum Stars, FC Platinum, Dynamos and Chicken Inn — are still in with a chance to land the coveted title.
Ngezi Platinum currently sit top of the table and only edge FC Platinum on goal difference as the two teams are tied on 63 points with only three games to go.
Dynamos are in third place on 61 points while Chicken Inn are in fourth with 59 points.
Ngezi are currently the league’s leading scorers having plundered in 51 goals in 31 matches at a rate of 1.65 goals per match.
Madamburo have been particularly ruthless at home at Baobab Stadium where they have scored 30 goals in 15 matches at an average of 2 goals per match.
Tonderai Ndiraya’s side still have to play Chicken Inn (home), FC Platinum (away) and Triangle (home) in their remaining matches.
Considering their home form, Ngezi will be looking to get wins in those two matches against Chicken Inn and Triangle while at least earning a draw with FC Platinum which will land them the title on goal difference.
At the moment, forward Terence Dzvukamanja is Ngezi’s leading goal scorer with nine goals while the team has shared the goals around.
Midfielder Tichaona Mabvura has netted eight goals followed by wing back Qadr Amini on seven goals.
As for FC Platinum, finding the back of the net has been the main problem for Norman Mapeza’s side this season.
Pure Platinum Play have only scored 35 goals in 31 matches at an average of 1.13 goals per game which is not a healthy return for a team looking to land the championship.
The fact that midfielder Rodwell Chinyengetere is the side’s leading scorer with six goals emphasises the side’s scoring struggles.
Their biggest victory this season was last weekend when they beat ZPC Kariba 3-0 at Mandava Stadium while they have failed to score in seven matches.
Although they have only lost twice this season to CAPS United and Ngezi, Mapeza’s side has been hampered by 12 draws this campaign.
If only they had managed to convert at least two or three of those draws into victories, then they would have wrapped up the championship a long time ago.
The Zvishavane-based side still has to play against already relegated Tsholotsho (away), Ngezi Platinum (home) and Chapungu (away) in their remaining three matches.
It is obvious that Mapeza and his charges are looking at that penultimate match at home against Ngezi as their biggest shot at landing the title.
If FC Platinum beat Madamburo in that meeting, then they will be guaranteed to go top of the log which will surely set them on course for a maiden league title since promotion into the top flight since 2011.
Although they are in third place, Dynamos are the league’s second highest scorers with 49 goals in 31 matches at an average of 1.58 goals per match.
Christian Ntouba with 11 strikes is the Glamour Boys’ leading scorer followed by bad boy Denver Mukamba on eight goals.
However, Mukamba’s future in the side is now in doubt after recent disciplinary issues which saw him being axed from the squad for the last two matches.
The Glamour Boys still have to face Bulawayo City (away), Bantu Rovers (away) and Chicken Inn (home) in their remaining three matches.
DeMbare would be looking at winning heavily in those two matches against Amakhosi and the already relegated Bantu to bolster their goal difference.
With Ngezi Platinum travelling to FC Platinum, DeMbare would be banking for at least a draw in that match to get back into contention.
Chicken Inn have worked their way back into the title race after a difficult last two months that saw them win only two games out of a possible seven.
Rahman Gumbo’s side have scored the least number of goals of the four title-chasing sides after netting only 32 in 31 matches at an average of 1.03 goals per game.
The Gamecocks still have to play Ngezi Platinum (away), Chapungu (home) and Dynamos (away) which are not easy fixtures.
If they are to win the title, Chicken Inn must win all these three matches and hope results elsewhere go their way.
Ngezi Platinum Stars: Chicken Inn (H), Fc Platinum (A), Triangle (H)
FC Platinum: Tsholotsho (A), Ngezi Platinum (H), Chapungu (A)
Dynamos: Bulawayo City (A), Bantu Rovers (A), Chicken Inn (H)
Chicken Inn: Ngezi Platinum (A), Chapungu (H), Dynamos (A)