Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League: Platinum look to wrap up title at Maglas
The small town of Zvishavane could rock to the sound of title celebrations once more on Sunday as FC Platinum face already relegated Shabanie Mine needing just a draw to make it back-to-back Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League title triumphs.
Platinum have amassed 71 points, nine more than second-placed Ngezi Platinum going into the last three matches of the campaign, and they are expected to easily dispatch ailing derby rivals Shabanie in this weekend's round of fixtures.
While the bottom-placed asbestos miners are without a win in 17 matches, Platinum have won six of their past eight to stand on the brink of a historic second consecutive title, the first such success by a team from outside Zimbabwe's two major cities of Harare and Bulawayo.
It has been a superb campaign for coach Norman Mapeza's men, who look to end the season with the league's best goal record as well after scoring 50 in their 31 matches to date.
The miners have also been outstanding in defence with just 14 goals conceded, and on Sunday they could derive extra pleasure from winning the title at Maglas Stadium, the home to their 'noisy neighbours'.
Mapeza is not expected to alter things too much as he begins to look ahead to the CAF Champions League, with star midfielder Rodwell Chinyengetere set to play a pivotal role as always.
The combative Farai Madhananga has been another hero in Platinum's march to the title, but fellow signings Never Tigere and Rahman Kutsanzira have not been as consistent.
While the title race is all but decided, there is still everything to play for at the other end of the table, where four teams remain mathematically in danger of joining Mutare City and Shabanie to Division One.
Third-bottom Bulawayo City, on 25 points, could be relegated if they fail to win on Saturday against Yadah, who occupy the last of the relegation places.
Chapungu, another team still to secure their top-flight future, face a difficult trip to ZPC Kariba, while Dynamos are at home to Triangle, the team that booted them out of the Chibuku Super Cup semifinals on Sunday.
A run of three consecutive wins has lifted Dynamos into mid-table, but they still need at least a point from their remaining three matches to be mathematically safe.
Caretaker coach Lloyd Chigove's preparations have, however, been rocked by the suspension of three key players by the club executive over allegations of instigating player unrest within the camp.
Elsewhere, CAPS United have great chance to end a run of five defeats in six matches in all competitions when they visit Mutare City in another match set for Sunday.
CAPS coach Lloyd Chitembwe has come under heavy criticism from fans as his side lurches from one disaster to another, and anything other than a win in Mutare could further poison the atmosphere at the Green Machine.
Highlanders boss Madinda Ndlovu, meanwhile, faces a tougher opposition as he bids to end a run that has yielded only one win in seven league matches at home to Chibuku Super Cup finalists Harare City.
Cities outclassed the Bulawayo giants when winning 2-0 in the Chibuku Super Cup quarterfinals early last month, and they have the capacity to pile more misery on Ndlovu's men on Sunday.