By Lawrence Trusida, Sports Editor
DEFENDING Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum are on the verge of joining an elite class after opening a 10-point lead at the top of the log.
The defending champions are just nine points away from retaining the league title with six matches to go before the end of the season.
The platinum miners now have a healthy 10-point cushion over second-placed Chicken Inn after Dynamos fell further behind.
It seems it’s now only a matter of when – rather than if – FC Platinum will retain the league title.
With a fourth successive league title, Pure Platinum Play will be in an elite class, where only the royalty of Zimbabwean football is found.
Only two other teams have managed to bag four successive league titles.
Dynamos, the most decorated Zimbabwean football club, did it twice, while their closest rivals, Highlanders managed it once.
Dynamos won four successive league titles from 1980 and 1983 before repeating it from 2011 up to 2014.
In between those two streaks, Highlanders also had their opportunity at the turn of the millennium.
It has been a remarkable season for the Zvishavane-based side after they started the season slowly following the departure of several key players.
FC Platinum had been written off after losing two-time soccer start of the year Rodwell Chinyengetere, midfielders Kelvin Madzongwe and Ralph Kawondera, utility players Rahman Kutsanzira, Donald Dzvinyai and striker Stanley Ngala.
However, head coach Norman Mapeza unleashed some gems and gave more minutes to the likes of Thandolwenkosi Ngwenya, Panashe Mutimbanyoka and Oscar Bhebhe who were fringe players the previous season.
As predicted, FC Platinum struggled and after 10 rounds of matches, they had only won four and drawn four lying in the sixth position, seven points behind the then-log leaders Chicken Inn.
Nine games later they were at the top of the table for the first time after thumping Chicken Inn three-nil.
Since then, they never looked back and to think at one point they were off the pace by as much as 10 points and now they lead Chicken Inn by the same points, shows how remarkable their journey has been.
FC Platinum’s one-nil win over Bulawayo City at the weekend coupled with Dynamos’ loss to Ngezi Platinum Stars virtually killed off the season as a contest with the Harare giants conceding defeat.
“Is it still possible? It’s no longer in our hands; no longer with six games to go. It’s difficult now,” said Tonderai Ndiraya, Dynamos coach.
FC Platinum are on 61 points, followed by Chicken Inn who are 10 points behind, while Dynamos are a further point away, with Highlanders concluding the top four with 45 points.
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