HARARE – The Castle Lager Premiership season has been full of twists and turns and this afternoon — it reaches a defining climax with either log leaders FC Platinum or Dynamos being crowned champions at the end of the day.
The Zvishavane-based side head into their final encounter away to Chapungu at Ascot Stadium on top of the table on 69 points, two ahead of second-placed Dynamos, who host Chicken Inn at the National Sports Stadium.
Norman Mapeza’s side only need to score a goal more than Chapungu to be crowned champions and even if Dynamos beat the Gamecocks, the title will be making a short trip to Zvishavane from Gweru at least for the duration of the entire next season.
For the Glamour Boys to be crowned champions, they are praying for FC Platinum to slip-up against the Gweru airmen.
A defeat or a draw for FC Platinum coupled with a Dynamos win would mean an agonising heartbreak for Mapeza.
“We are determined and completely focused on what we have to do. We need to keep our feet on the ground and there is no need for early celebrations. We are approaching the crossing line and it’s important to maintain the same energy,” Mapeza said to the Daily News earlier this week.
“We must stay focused for another 90 minutes. We just need to keep on like what we have been doing in our recent matches.
“People are saying Chapungu will be an easy match for us but I don’t think it’s true. There are no easy matches and we just need to keep on working hard.”
Should FC Platinum go on to lift the title, then it would be history in the making as the platinum miners would have achieved a feat no other teams from outside the two main cities — Harare and Bulawayo — have achieved since independence.
Since 1980, only teams from the capital and Bulawayo have been crowned Zimbabwe champions.
During that period, Dynamos have won the title on 16 occasions followed by Highlanders on seven while CAPS United have won it four times.
The other teams to have won the title since 1980 are Black Rhinos (twice), Black Aces, Zimbabwe Saints, Amazulu, Motor Action, Monomotapa, Gunners and Chicken Inn.
The only team in the history of local football to have stopped the hegemony of Harare and Bulawayo is St Paul’s Musami Mission, who defied the odds way back in 1966 when they won the then Rhodesia National Football title under Father Anthony Edward Davies.
FC Platinum are on the cusp of breaking that jinx as they face a Chapungu side they have normally enjoyed a good record against since their promotion into the top flight in 2011.
Mapeza’s side though have come so close to winning the league title in recent seasons.
In their maiden season in the premiership, Pure Platinum Play narrowly the lost the title to Dynamos on goal aggregate, ironically on the penultimate day of the season.
The Zvishavane miners had been top of the log for a considerable time but disappointedly finished the season empty-handed.
In Mapeza’s first season in 2014, FC Platinum finished in fourth place on the log six points behind champions Dynamos, having joined the side midway through the season.
In 2015, Mapeza led the platinum miners to a third place finish, again six points behind champions Chicken Inn.
Last season, they came so close again before eventually finishing in second place two points behind eventual champions CAPS United.