…relegation matrix complex
…eight more teams unsafe
THIS year’s Castle Lager Premiership will be decided on the final day with regards both the championship and relegation.
At the top, leaders CAPS United and champions FC Platinum are the front runners for the title while Chicken Inn have a mathematical chance that will however, evaporate on the penultimate round of matches if Makepekepe win at Ngezi Platinum.
The only way Chicken Inn will win the title is if they win their remaining matches against Herentals and TelOne while CAPS and FC Platinum lose they Week 33 matches and then draw their final game. That way, Chicken Inn will claim the title on goal difference.
CAPS will be champions if they win at Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum drop points at home to Black Rhinos. The leaders can still afford to lose their Ngezi game and beat FC Platinum at the National Sports Stadium.
FC Platinum will be champions if they win both remaining matches or if they beat Rhinos on Week 29 and avoid defeat away to CAPS United on the final weekend, provided Makepekepe drop points in Ngezi on Week 29.
But while the championship equation is a maximum three teams, as many as EIGHT are still not safe from relegation, which has already claimed Mushowani in their debut Premiership campaign.
CAF Confederation Cup representatives Triangle secured their Premiership stay on Sunday with a 3-2 win over Hwange and occupy ninth place -the final SAFE position.
Teams in the bottom half of the Premiership standings are NOT safe as of now and the remaining fixtures suggest that Yadah –for so long bottom of the standings –have a strong chance of a miraculous escape.
The Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries aligned outfit is currently third from bottom with 33 points from 32 matches.
Yadah are the only team in the bottom half with matches against teams that have nothing to play for between now and December 14-15 weekend.
They host a safe Triangle before visiting relegated Mushowani on the final round of matches and their recent results suggest that they can easily collect the six points at stake and finish on 41 points. They will rue the mid-season challenges when benefactor, Prophet Walter Magaya virtually abandoned them in protest (at least according to his sermon in church during the period). They will also look at the 2-2 draw with CAPS United where they felt robbed of a winning goal in the dying stages of the game at the National Sports Stadium.
For the maximum 41 points to help Yadah survive, at least THREE of the following must happen:
***Hwange win against Telone
***Harare City win one or drop points in both matches against Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum
***Bulawayo Chiefs fail to win in their remaining two games against Highlanders and Herentals
***Herentals fail to win their remaining matches against Chicken Inn and Bulawayo Chiefs
***Chapungu are restricted to just one point against Manica Diamonds and Highlanders
***TelOne lose and draw their remaining games against Hwange and Chicken Inn
The Premiership newcomers invested heavily in new, old players to actually challenge for the title but are struggling to ensure survival although they are almost safe. They however, have tricky assignments against struggling Chapungu (home) and Black Rhinos (away). Victory over Chapungu in the penultimate round of matches guarantees survival for Manica Diamonds, as there are more than four teams that would NOT surpass 44 points. That list includes Chapungu.
The Gweru-based airmen are 11th on the current standings with 39 points from 32 matches and will survive relegation if they beat fellow strugglers Manica Diamonds at Vhengere. Chapungu are victims of a late slump after looking solid around midseason when they went on an unbeaten run. Their final game of the season is at home to Highlanders who want a top four finish on top of the Chibuku Super Cup they won at the weekend.
The issue of distance for 2020 games comes into play again when Chapungu host Highlanders on the final game. Gweru is closer to Bulawayo and Highlanders would not mind saving Chapungu at the expense of a Harare team as Yadah, Harare City and Herentals would be supporting Bosso in this encounter for their own benefit.
The Premiership newcomers are 12th position with 39 points from 32 matches and are near safety because of positive results yielded under new coach Rahman Gumbo. In the penultimate round of matches, TelOne host Hwange in a match that might see them secure a place in next season’s league while condemning Hwange to Division One. Their last match of the season is away to Chicken Inn who might still be interested in the title race depending on the Week 33 results for FC Platinum and CAPS United. They do not need to travel to Bulawayo needing to win to survive and, as such, a win against Hwange becomes a must.
In their last game of the season, Rahman Gumbo will be returning to his former club Chicken Inn who are now under Joey Antipas, the man whose technical team succeeded Rahman and his now assistant, Lloyd Mutasa at the Warriors. Rahman will be out to prove a point.
The students face the toughest final two matches of the teams fighting relegation as they host Chicken Inn on Week 33. Virtually out of the title race, Chicken must win against Herentals in Harare to stand any mathematical chance of snatching the title from under CAPS United and FC Platinum’s noses. That then complicates things for Herentals and things do not get any easier on the final weekend as they travel to Bulawayo Chiefs, who are also in the relegation mix. Bulawayo Chiefs have been the team of the second half of the season.
The Ninjas have really impressed in the second half of the season and risen from the bottom to current 14th position. They however, face a tough final two matches against city rivals Highlanders and Herentals. There is a conspiracy theory that Highlanders would prefer a reduction in travelling costs next season and helping Bulawayo Chiefs survive relegation is one such move, as it will ensure more teams from the neighbourhood. However, Highlanders have been a different machine ever since arrival of Dutch coach, Pieter de Jongh. As such, Bulawayo Chiefs will have to work hard to get anything from the game against Bosso.
Despite a seemingly healthy financial base, Harare City are in real danger of relegation under Lloyd Chitembwe if they do not win their remaining matches against Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum. Their remaining opponents are battling for a Top Four finish and probably expect maximum points off Harare City.
But with Chitembwe being closer to Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya –due to Warriors assignments –he might just get it easy in the Harare derby!
The coalminers, who are second from bottom, are virtually out but still have a mathematical chance of surviving if they beat TelOne (away) and ZPC Kariba (home) in their remaining matches. Hwange will be out if they fail to win against TelOne in the Week 33 match. It looks Mission Impossible for Hwange.