AUGUSTINE Mbara believes it’s still game on in the Castle Lager Premiership race after their rivals in the title race faltered at the weekend to leave them with a firm grip on the destiny of the championship.
The Harare giants opened a three-point cushion on Sunday despite struggling to a 1-1 home draw with Chapungu at Rufaro.
Dynamos were the only team among the top four, before the weekend games, to pick a point after their rivals ZPC Kariba, CAPS United and Highlanders lost.
Mbara, who was the DeMbare skipper on Sunday, said the Harare giants will continue fighting for points in the remaining four games as they aim for a fourth league championship under Callisto Pasuwa.
DeMbare face Harare City at Rufaro tomorrow.
“Right now it’s not guaranteed that we are going to win the championship this year because all the teams we are going to play will obviously come better prepared,” said Mbara.
“We cannot afford to relax if we want to maintain the title dream. I just hope that as a team we are going to fight hard until the end.
“We just hope that in our next match, against Harare City, we bounce back and collect three points. But that again should be a very difficult game, more like a Cup final.”
Dynamos lead the log standings with 50 points while ZPC Kariba, who lost 2-0 to FC Platinum, are the nearest rivals on 47 points.
CAPS United also faltered, after another weekend of drama in their camp, when they lost 2-1 away at Triangle while ailing giants Highlanders lost 0-1 to Chicken Inn in a derby.
With four games and 12 points to play for, Mbara predicted that the final stretch will be tough.
ZPC Kariba coach Saul Chaminuka said his side will not crumble under pressure.
“I wouldn’t want to say it was to do with pressure. In my opinion we just came second best and I would like to believe that we gave those guys too much time to play the ball.
“But whether we are going to end the season on top, second or third we are not worried about that now.
“In fact we are not under any kind of pressure to win the championship because winning the title this season, which is our first in the league, was never one of the targets when we started this year.
“But we are happy it’s something that looks achievable for a small team like ours. So we are going to concentrate on playing football and getting good results. Considering our position on the log standings, what we aim for now is at least a top four finish,” said Chaminuka.
His team faces Buffaloes next.
CAPS United had to battle internal unrest by the players before their trip to Triangle.
Makepekepe players were up in arms against their employers as they demanded payment of outstanding winning bonuses.
Team manager Luis Maio said that could have contributed to their defeat.
“It wasn’t an easy game and obviously the fact that we could not collect points makes life even difficult in the championship race.
“I think the major problem was that the players’ minds were not totally focused, maybe, because of the problems that we faced before this game. “But I am sure things are being taken care of and everything should be resolved before our next game. As a team we need to focus on playing football and getting results at this important stage of the season.
“If you look at it, we had gone for seven games unbeaten and such setbacks defy all the efforts that we had put in. We really need to bounce back in our next game against FC Platinum,” said Maio.
The Green Machine will host FC Platinum at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Wednesday: Harare City v Dynamos (Rufaro), Shabanie Mine v How Mine (Maglas), Chicken Inn v Triangle (Hartsfield) Chapungu v Bantu Rovers (Ascot), Chiredzi v Black Rhinos (Chishamiso), CAPS United v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium), ZPC Kariba v Buffaloes (Gwanzura), Hwange v Highlanders (Colliery)