Giants Dynamos, CAPS face Zim PSL top two
Struggling Harare giants Dynamos host Ngezi this weekend while CAPS United make the trip to champions FC Platinum as the old guard seek to reclaim some lost glory against the teams which have displaced them at the top in the Zimbabwe Premier League.
Both Dynamos and CAPS have struggled to live up to their billing this term, with the former enduring a particularly harrowing run which has left them closer to the relegation places than the top spot they have often monopolised.
The two clubs would however regain some measure of relevance if they can throw spanners in the path of a brewing two-horse title race pitting Ngezi against Platinum, two clubs whose deep pockets have propelled them into the limelight.
Platinum currently enjoy a four-point lead over Ngezi at the top of the standings, and face CAPS determined to rediscover the winning spirit following some unexpected slip-ups over the last two matchdays.
Norman Mapeza's team first lost 2-1 to ZPC Kariba before drawing 1-1 at Yadah FC to leave their aura of invincibility severely dented. CAPS should feel they have more than an outsider's chance to further rock the boat .
Ngezi, on the other hand, visit Dynamos looking to consolidate their resurgence after ending a forgettable run of four consecutive loses with a 3-1 win at home to Triangle last Saturday.
The Mhondoro-based Miners had looked overwhelming favourites for the title early on following an impressive 14-match unbeaten start to the campaign, but they have since been found out.
Successive defeats against Bulawayo City (1-0), Platinum (2-1), Black Rhinos (2-1) and Herentals (1-0), have shaken the confidence of Tonderai Ndiraya's men.
A defence that was once the best in the league with ten clean sheets in 13 matches is now proving the weakest link after shipping seven goals in the last five.
Last week, Ndiraya demoted first-choice goalkeeper Donovan Bernard to the bench in preference to young Nelson Chadya, while also restoring Godknows Murwira to the right-back position as he sought to plug the holes.
The former Dynamos midfielder will also be thankful that that his forward line showed some impressive form with a three-goal salvo against Triangle.
Nothing however compares to the anguish that has become a way of life for the multitudes of Dynamos followers who have had to watch helplessly as their team lurch from one disaster to another since the start of the campaign.
Coach Lloyd Mutasa had hoped to make Dynamos the best team in the second-half of the season, but his players are apparently sticking to the same old script with two disappointing draws since emerging from the midseason break.
Indeed, the 2-2 stalemate at whipping boys Shabanie Mine last Sunday offered convincing evidence that little has changed for a Dynamos team who have struggled with everything from a leaky defence to a blunt strikeforce which has managed a mere 17 goals in 19 matches.
Mutasa now finds himself with little margin for error going into his next five matches, which include a tough trip to Highlanders and a derby clash against CAPS United.
While the Dynamos fans have long given up on the league title, any indications that the team is again drifting towards relegation trouble could spark a nasty backlash from the volatile Vietnam stand.
Mutasa has been making frantic efforts to bring back midfielder Bret Amidu from Platinum while talk has also resurfaced of a possible reunion with Cameroonian marksman Christian Ntouba.
In other matchday 19 encounters, fifth-placed Highlanders visit Triangle while Chicken Inn, in third, have a great opportunity to capitalise on any slip-up by the top two when they visit bottom-placed Mutare City.
Full weekend fixtures
Saturday: Harare City v Chapungu (Rufaro), Bulawayo Chiefs v Bulawayo City (Luveve), FC Platinum v Caps (Mandava), Black Rhinos v Yadah (National Sports Stadium), Nichrut v Shabanie (Ascot)
Sunday: Dynamos v Ngezi (Rufaro), Herentals v ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Triangle v Highlanders (Gibbo), Mutare City v Chicken Inn (Vengere)