Thrilling twists, intense battles: The crafty drama unfolding in the PSL relegation dogfight Highlanders’ Washington Navaya (left) breaks away with the ball as Greenfuel’s Honest Moyo (right) and Raymond Uchena give chase during a Castle Premier Soccer League match played at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo. (Pic By Dennis Mudzamiri)

Fungai Muderere
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WHAT a remarkable and captivating season it has been in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League! As we reflect on the 12 rounds of matches played so far, we find ourselves immersed in a campaign that has left fans breathless, hearts broken, and memories etched in the minds of supporters across the nation.

From epic battles for positions at the top to nail-biting relegation struggles, this season has had it all, with Ngezi Platinum Stars, Highlanders, Chicken Inn, Dynamos and FC Platinum engaging in one of the most dramatic championship races in recent memory.

At the pinnacle of the league, the top four teams find themselves rightfully basking in a cloud of elation and optimism. However, contrasting emotions spill from the foot of the table, where Sheasham, ZPC Kariba, Green Fuel, and Black Rhinos occupy the dreaded relegation slots.

Sheasham, fondly known as the Construction Boys, embarked on their maiden Premier League season with promise. A series of two draws and a loss in the opening three games shed a bright light on the potential of John Nyikadzino’s men.

Sheasham Football Club team line up

However, as the season progressed, the wheels seemed to come off the wagon, with six additional draws, another loss, and a walkover against CAPS United. Sheasham currently sits in 15th position with 11 points. In their last five games, their form guide reads DDLDW, indicating a moderate success rate of 40 percent, with a total of six points collected from a possible 15.

Comparatively, at the same stage of the previous season, Yadah FC found themselves perched in the same 15th position with 11 points. Both Sheasham and Yadah FC had endured similar challenges, but the latter miraculously survived the relegation threat. It is a testament to the unpredictable nature of the league and the resilience required to navigate such treacherous waters.

ZPC Kariba, once known as a formidable side refusing to bow down to giants like Highlanders, Dynamos, and FC Platinum, is currently experiencing a somewhat inexplicable demise. The blame is being cast upon their interim head coach, Newsome Mutema, who suffered a demoralising defeat as they were hammered 3-0 by Dynamos. ZPC Kariba, occupying the 16th spot with 11 points, had also fallen victim to a 3-0 loss against Chicken Inn in the previous weekend, conceding six goals without reply in their last two games.

Their form guide reads LLLWD, depicting a meagre success rate of 26 percent, with a mere four points garnered from their last five outings. The memory of their previous season’s struggles, where they occupied the same spot on the log with 11 points, is a haunting reminder that they must recapture their previous form to stave off relegation.

Bukhosi “Zakhu” Sibanda

Green Fuel, based in Chisumbanje, entered the season with high expectations fueled by a substantial monetary budget. The acquisition of notable players such as Honest Moyo, McClive Phiri, Bukhosi “Zakhu” Sibanda, and former Warriors player Eric Chipeta added to their optimism. However, they have yet to experience the joy that money supposedly brings.

With a form guide of LDWLD, they find themselves second from the bottom with 10 points, achieving a modest success rate of 33 percent by collecting five points from a possible 15.

Injury setbacks have plagued Green Fuel, but they hope for a change in fortunes under their new coach, Rodwell Dhlakama. In the previous season, Whawha, who faced relegation, occupied the same position with eight points, highlighting the challenging nature of the battle for survival.

Green Fuel will draw inspiration from Whawha’s struggle and seek to turn their fortunes around in the remaining matches.

Lastly, we turn our attention to Black Rhinos, a club with a rich history in Zimbabwean football. They emerged as champions of the Northern Region Division One in 1984 and went on to win the Super

League championship in their debut Premier League season in 1985. However, the current state of affairs paints a different picture for this once triumphant side. They currently anchor the log standings with a meagre six points. Their form guide reads LLLLD, indicating a dismal success rate of 0.07 percent, with only a single point earned from their last five matches.

The soldiers of Chauya Chimpembere have endured a series of defeats, struggling to find their rhythm and secure positive results. In the 2021/2022 season, Bulawayo City found themselves in a similar position with the same number of points as Black Rhinos, which eventually led to their relegation. City had recorded one win, three draws, and eight defeats, conceding 22 goals and holding a goal difference of -14.

As we observe the current bottom four positions, it is intriguing to note that the range of six to 11 points, which was observed last season, has once again surfaced after the completion of Week 12 fixtures. The battle for survival remains fierce, with each club fighting tooth and nail to secure their place in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.

As the campaign unfolds, teams will continue to leave no stone unturned in their quest for success or fight for survival. The league’s unpredictable nature keeps fans on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the twists and turns that lie ahead in this enthralling football journey.

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