The Sunday Mail
IT was a case of the proverbial ‘too little too late’ for Harare City, who will officially be relegated from the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League if ZPC Kariba secure a point against Highlanders today.
Harare City halted their three-game winning streak when they beat Bulawayo City 2-1 at Barbourfields yesterday.
However, that win was not good enough to steer Harare City away from the relegation zone, but only gave them a glimmer of hope based on a mathematical chance.
Yet Harare City blew a brilliant opportunity to hold their survival fate in their hands when they were held 1-1 at home by relegated WhaWha last weekend.
Those two dropped points meant that Taurai Mangwiro and his charges can only now finish with 35 points if they beat the Highlanders in their final assignment at the National Sports Stadium.
ZPC Kariba is already on 35 points and has a goal difference of minus eight while Harare City has 32 points and a goal difference of minus 10.
To be certain of their survival, Harare City will have to pray for ZPC Kariba to lose their last two games either without scoring or by huge margins which will ensure they only need the narrowest of wins over the Highlanders.
It actually means mathematically that the sun has set on the Sunshine Boys’ flirtation with the Premier League.
Newboys Cranborne Bullets did enough to survive as Nesbsert “Yabo” Saruchera’s soldiers, drew 0-0 against Tenax at Vengere yesterday.
Cranborne Bullets, who are in 12th place, now have 38 points which both Bulawayo City and Harare City cannot achieve, despite winning their last matches.
13th-placed Yadah also ensured safety with the point they took from Chicken Inn in their 0-0 draw at the National Sports Stadium on Friday.
In yesterday’s game at Barbourfields, Bulawayo City never looked like a team desperate to survive relegation as they took an early lead to come out second best against Harare City and compound their relegation woes.
Despite an early lead, the hosts put in a below-par performance worthy of a side in the relegation zone.
Yesterday’s result left Amakhosi 15th on the log with 33 points, while the Sunshine City Boys are a point behind in 16th.
Both municipal teams can be relegated if ZPC Kariba can avoid defeat when they face Bosso. A draw will take ZPC Kariba to 36 points and even if they lose their last match, they will have to do so by a wide margin for Bulawayo City or Harare City to overtake them.
Bulawayo City had taken the lead after eight minutes through a penalty from Melikhaya Ncube.
Referee Arnold Ncube pointed to the spot after striker Dalubuhle Dlodlo had been hacked down inside the box by Dinoleen Masukuta.
Ncube stepped up and was up to the task even though Tawanda Dendera, in goal for Harare City, dived to the right and got a hand on the ball on its way into the net.
The visitors came close to getting a response through Wilfred Muvirimi, who saw his goal attempt crash against the crossbar two minutes later.
The visitors were in control of the match from the moment the ball was played in the hosts’ own half for most of the match.
Harare City were duly rewarded for their efforts through a beautiful goal from Masukuta, who controlled well and volleyed home from the edge of the box after 39 minutes.
Had Harare City been more fluid in front of goal, they could have scored more goals before the break.
They would go on to secure their deserved win after 77 minutes through Donald Dzvinyai. City coach Farai Tawachera was saddened by the loss.
“I’m disappointed. The lack of depth was evident. You could see the tired legs. We could have won this game. I’m now thinking about how we come back from here.
“The way we played today is not the way we usually play,” Tawachera said.
Despite the tough times, Mangwiro was elated with the victory.
– We are not worried about what happens in the last match. We just have to continue from here. We haven’t had many of those wins this season so to get one away from home is good news for us,” said Mangwiro.
While Harare City face Highlanders on the final day, ZPC Kariba play Herentals at Nyamhunga and Bulawayo City will travel to Vengere for a date against Black Rhinos.