PSL goals dry up

HARARE - As the 2016 Castle Lager Premiership reached the halfway mark this weekend, it was abundantly clear that there is something glaringly lacking – goals.

It seems local strikers are getting goal-shy with each passing season if you look at the stats from previous years.

This year with most teams having played at least 15 games each, the local Premiership has seen a significant drop in the number of goals scored.

Scoreboard operators have only been troubled 213 times as goals continue to dry up in the domestic game.

It was a different scenario last season because at this same stage, at least 253 goals had been scored.

If you go back to the 2014 season, it will become clear that that the Zimbabwean Premiership is regressing because that year, a total of 266 goals had hit the back of the nets at the halfway stage.

But what has gone wrong this season?

Highlanders utility player Bruce Kangwa is the current top goal scorer with a paltry seven strikes including the one this weekend against CAPS United.

For most of his career, Kangwa spent his time occupying the left back role and the moment he is given a consistent run in midfield, he ends up heading the top scorers’ charts.

Looks like the current crop of local strikers are finding it hard to find the back on the net regularly.

Next on the goal scorers lists is rookie Hwange forward Gift Mbweti, who is on five goals, together with Leonard Tsipa of CAPS United and Chicken Inn’s Obadiah Tarumbwa.

Tsipa and Tarumbwa have already passed their peak as they are on the wrong side of 30.

Hearing most PSL coaches speak during their post match interviews, they all have a similar mantra of, “we need to bring in new strikers”.

But where do you get this new crop of strikers?

Some of the established forwards in the domestic Premiership like Roderick Mutuma, Dominic Chungwa, Kuda Musharu, Martin Vengesayi, Francisco Zekumbawire, Nelson Mazivisa and Washington Pakamisa have all struggled to find the back of the net.

It looks like the only young forwards who seem to be showing signs they can fill in this goal scoring void are Mbweti and Highlanders’ Prince Dube, who has netted four goals thus far.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner Knox Mutizwa looked to be continuing where he had left off from 2015 but he has moved to South Africa with Bidvest Wits after scoring four goals.

The Dynamos duo of King Nasama and Kudzanai Nyakasaka have shown some potential but their conversion rate is still way too low with one and two goals each in their fledging Premiership careers.

While there is no denying that the standard of the strikers being produced has gone down, the coaching tactics being employed nowadays has also contributed to the declining goals ratios.

Coaches like Jose Mourinho of Manchester United and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone have made ‘anti-football’ popular again.

Mourinho and Simeone’s game plans are heavily centred some dogged defending and only attacking your opponents on the break.

Even newly crowned European champions Portugal epitomised this new trend in France as they abandoned their flair and attacking style under Fernando Santos for a pragmatic approached based on counter attacking football.

Highlanders coach Erol Akbay perfectly summed up this shift after the weekend’s win over Makepekepe.

“I’m happy we won. It was our plan to sit back and catch them on the counter and it worked for us. Today our strategy was not to play good football but to get a good result,” the Dutchman said.

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