Battle for Golden Boot Award

HARARE - This year’s Castle Lager Premiership title race appears to be heading for another exhilarating deciding phase with eight matches left before the season comes to an end.

Log leaders Dynamos, second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars, third-placed FC Platinum and Chicken Inn, who are in fourth place, are only separated by two points.

Reigning champions CAPS United, who are in fifth place, have also slowly worked their way back into contention as they now have 41 points with a game in hand.

At the other end of the table, Bantu Rovers, Tsholotsho, Hwange, Shabanie Mine, Chapungu, Yadah FC and incredibly Harare City and even Highlanders are all still not yet safe from relegation.

It is a similar scenario when it comes to the race for the Golden Boot award where a number of leading contenders have raised their hands.

For a long time it looked like former Bantu Rovers captain Bukhosi Sibanda would win the top gong with 10 goals even though he moved to South Africa First Division side Ubuntu Cape Town FC.

However, Dynamos’ Christian Ntouba has made a major claim for the Golden Boot while CAPS United’s Dominic Chungwa has slowly risen to second place on the chart.

Black Rhinos’ Lot Chiwunga has also gate-crashed into the race after regaining his scoring touch in recent weeks.

Ntouba, playing in his first season in the Zimbabwean top flight, currently sits on 12 goals and is the favourite to land the gong.

The Cameroonian has proved to be a dangerous marksman with a keen eye for goal and on many occasions has caught out goalkeepers from near-impossible angles while at the same time providing assists for teammates.

However, Ntouba’s progress was hampered by the two-match suspension he served for the red card he received for head-butting Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa recently.

On the other hand, Chungwa has been credited for firing defending champions CAPS United back into recognition with some crucial goals lately.

A late burst has pushed Chungwa’s tally to 11 goals this season and is now a serious contender for the Golden Boot.

Chungwa was on target when CAPS United derailed Chicken Inn’s title hopes with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night.

But for Chungwa though, he is not concerned about individual glory as he rather wants to help the team finish strong.

“As a striker it always feels good getting the goals because that’s what I am employed to do,” Chungwa told the Daily News on Sunday.

“I’m really happy with my current scoring rate and hope to keep on scoring.

“I want to keep on working hard and see where I stand at the end of the season. I don’t want to put myself under unnecessary pressure by setting targets.”

Rhinos striker Chiwunga is hot on the heels of Ntouba and Chungwa having found the net 10 times.

The army side may have fallen short in the title race, but Chiwunga’s star continues to rise, as he is rightly regarded as one of the best strikers in the country.

The former Douglas Warriors striker has worked his socks off up-front — full of running and causing all sorts of problems for most opposition defenders.

Chiwunga is not a spectacular forward but the archetypical football number nine whose job is to score goals.

But having started positively to the season in which he hit the back of the net regularly while providing assists, somehow, Chiwunga’s form dipped and it coincided with Rhinos’ struggles.

But the Highfield-born striker appears to have discovered his scoring touch again after netting a brace in the midweek win over Hwange.

“I’m not looking at the Golden Boot for now,” Chiwunga told the Daily News on Sunday.

“It actually inspires me to find that I’m in the race for the Golden Boot award.

“But for now that’s not my primary objective. My main concern is to help the team do well first then see from there.

“We are still recovering from a bad patch and we need to keep on working hard for now.

“It seems good because we have managed to pick up some important points lately.”

It is, however, still yet to be seen if this year’s Golden Boot winner can reach the 20-goal mark.

For the past six years no top goal scorer has surpassed the 20-goal mark a feat which was last achieved by Norman Maroto in 2010 when he led Gunners to their maiden championship under the guidance of Moses Chunga.

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