MASVINGO-With four games before the curtain comes down this season, ZIFA Eastern Region Soccer League presents a tight and tense battle with a mere two points separating the top two teams.
Leading the charge is FC Wangu Mazodze with 52 points followed closely by Bikita Minerals with 50 points, Tenax are third with 49 points, Rusitu Tigers have 48 points after their 0-1 defeat at the hands of FC Hunters.
Municipal owned side Mutare City Rovers completes the top five with 44 points.Chiredzi Stars are singing the blues and rooted at the bottom of the log with 9 points from 24 outings.
This weekend, two games are lined up on Saturday while five matches will be played on Sunday in various venues across the region.
Mutare based army side Buffaloes FC will host Masvingo United at Showgrounds while Renco Mine FC will take on Grayham FC at Maramba Stadium.
On Sunday, stubborn Bikita Minerals will play Mutare City Rovers at Lithium Stadium. FC Wangu Mazodze will be home against JM Busha54 FC. Struggling Chiredzi Stars will host Rusitu Tigers at Chishamiso Stadium while Surrey FC will take on Tenax FC. FC Hunters will play Midway FC at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera.
While the level of competition in the ERSL has been so high this season, the level of violence has not made the situation any better as match officials have been attacked by club executives, players and supporters. The latest incident happened two weeks ago in a match pitting Grayham FC and Tenax FC. The Centre referee, Blessing Tauro had to run for dear life with fans in hot pursuit. The match had ended in a nil all draw. Reports also indicated that Tenax FC head coach, Luke Petros and his players had a hand in attacking Tauro.
On September 24, Buffaloes FC were caught off side as they caused violence in their match against Surrey FC. The army side goalkeeper, Sam Nyama head butted centre referee Raymond Kamupira and was suspended by his club. Buffaloes FC lost the match 1-0.
Buffaloes again were in early October found wanting after accusing match official of awarding what they called a dubious penalty to FC Wangu Mazodze. Violence was the order of the day. Buffaloes FC lost 1-0.
Asked to comment on the violence incidents that rocked the region, ERSL Administrator, Fungai Munyoro-Chingaira condemned the ugly scenes. She said match venues should be safe for everyone.
“We do not condone violence, violence has no place in football. It’s not something we expect to happen in our games. Football is a beautiful game and violence gives it a negative reputation. All these cases have since been resolved and we hope to continue smoothly with the remaining matches,” said Chingaira.
Chingaira said she is satisfied with how the league has progressed.
“Apart from all these unfortunate incidents, we are happy with the league. The level of competition is very high this season as compared to other seasons,” she said.