PSL coaches feel the heat

HARARE - With the Castle Lager Premiership season heading into the business end, a number of coaches are now feeling the heat as they battle to meet their targets.

Already, Highlanders coach Erol Akbay has thrown in the towel when he revealed that he will not renew his contract with the Bulawayo giants at the end of the season.

The Dutchman had signed a two-year contract when he first arrived at Bosso last season with an option to renew but decided against exercising that option in August.

At the start of the 2017 season, Highlanders, who had finished the previous season in third place, were tipped to be one of the title contenders.

Highlanders had a considerably good start to the season, winning four of their opening six matches, which meant they were among the leading pack.

At the halfway stage of the season, the Bulawayo giants — who had two games in hand — were only five points behind then log leaders Black Rhinos.

However, the mid-season transfer window wrecked Bosso’s season after the club sold their leading forward Prince Dube to South African side SuperSport United while Roderick Mutuma came back to the capital to join Yadah FC.

Since then, Bosso have struggled for form in the second half of the season as they found it hard to find the back of the net.
At one point, Akbay’s side went for seven league games without a victory and they were even knocked out of the Chibuku Super Cup by struggling Harare City.

As a result of their poor run in the second half of the season, Bosso faded out of the title race as they are now in eighth place on the log with 37 points.

Highlanders trail log leaders Dynamos by a massive 19 points with only seven games to go before the season ends.

Another coach who has succumbed to the pressure is ZPC Kariba coach Sunday Chidzambwa, who announced after the defeat to Ngezi Platinum Stars last month that he would be walking away.

ZPC also had a good start to their 2017 campaign and at the halfway stage were just four points behind Rhinos. However, it has not been rosy for Chidzambwa and his charges as they have failed to find any consistency in recent weeks.

At one stage, the former Warriors coach accused his players of sabotage following a 1-0 defeat to CAPS United back in July.  

“If players are not prepared to fight for me, then I would rather go home rather than getting pressure everyday because of players who don’t want to fight for the coach,” Chidzambwa said back then.

“Our problem is that we are not fighting to win matches. I’m going to talk to the players and if they don’t want to fight, I will resign.”             

Two months later, the former Dynamos coach finally gathered the courage to hand in his resignation.

This time around, Chidzambwa is accusing the ZPC executive of jettisoning him according to a leaked secret recording.

While Akbay and Chidzambwa’s fates have already been sealed, there is another group of coaches that still have seven games to save their skins.

FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is feeling the pressure of his side’s quest to win their first league title since promotion in 2011.

The platinum miners have poured in a lot of money into the project without getting the desired results.

After missing the title last season, the club extended Mapeza’s contract but they made it clear that only a first place finish will be tolerated.

At the moment, Pure Platinum Play are in third place on the log three points behind DeMbare.

Mapeza’s side has been hamstrung by the high number of draws they have earned, which could cost them the title.

FC Platinum have drawn 11 times in 27 matches while only losing twice. If they had been able to convert atleast three of those draws into wins, then they would have been sitting pretty at the top of the log.

Ngezi Platinum also spent heavily in the transfer window but it looks like Tonderai Ndiraya’s men are running out of steam.
Madamburo are in second place, just three points behind DeMbare and are already out of the Chibuku Super Cup.

Failure to land any silverware at the end of the season will be deemed a failure, considering the level of investment the club has made this season.

Ndiraya is, however, playing it cool despite the fact that it has not gone according to script.

“My outlook is positive, what we have achieved this season is phenomenal. There is still a lot of football to be played and a lot of things can happen in those remaining matches,” Ndiraya said.

“We are under no pressure whatsoever. Our objective remains that of a top-four finish and who knows; maybe we do win the league. We just need to keep on working hard going forward.”

Although they are top of the log, Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa is now under pressure to deliver a 22nd league title for the Glamour Boys.

At the start of the season, Mutasa’s mandate was to build a team that could be competitive after losing a number of established stars.

But DeMbare have exceeded expectations by shooting top of the log and with an inexperienced squad, the DeMbare supporters are now looking forward to celebrating at the end of the season.

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