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MUSHOWANI Stars underlined their status as the team to beat in the World Navi Northern Region Division One soccer league with an impressive 2-1 win in the top-of-the-table showdown against Flame Lily at Chikurubi on Saturday. On a good weekend for the high-flying teams from Mashonaland Central, Bindura United came from a goal down, at home, to beat plucky DC Academy 2-1 at Chipadze on the same day.

The two sets of results meant that, for the first time this season, the top two teams in the marathon for a ticket into the Premiership next season are both from Mashonaland Central.

Leaders Mushowani Stars had the tougher assignment against Nesbert “Yabo” Saruchera’s Flame Lily who were in second place, only a point shy of the leaders, going into their showdown.

Yabo’s men also had the aantage of playing at home and, going into this titanic tie, the veteran coach had suggested that Mushowani’s unbeaten run owed to the fact that they were yet to play his men.

The visitors, coached by veteran gaffer Paul “Popopo” Chimalizeni, had also played a tough away fixture, against Chegutu Pirates, where the emotional strain of the violence that followed their victory at Pfupajena was expected to work against them at Chikurubi.

But Popopo and his men showed why they are not only the leaders, but are unbeaten this season, with an impressive win against Flame Lily to retain their one-point lead at the top of the table.

It was Mushowani’s sixth win in seven starts, in which they have also drawn once, and given the strength of their opponents, this was certainly their best result of the campaign so far this year.

Former Mufakose 2 High School star, Melusi Melo Milo, and attacking midfielder Zivanayi Madombiro scored the goals that powered Mushowani Stars to their impressive win at Chikurubi.

Veteran Brighton Chandisaita scored from the penalty spot for Flame Lily.

That win also proved that their victory at Chegutu Pirates, blighted by the violence that saw an assistant referee being hit by a missile, wasn’t a fluke as claimed by Pirates’ coach Tavaka Gumbo who questioned the officiating in that duel.

Popopo, who made his name at Lengthens, knows that these are still early days in the tough Northern Region Division One league championship but if his men can keep the focus they showed at Chikurubi on Saturday, then they will be a match for everyone.

Provincial rivals Bindura United were hoping for a draw at Chikurubi for them to take over as leaders, in the event they beat DC Academy, but with Mushowani winning, it meant that their victory over the Harare side wasn’t good enough to take them to the top.

Bindura United trailed in their home match but showed great spirit to fight their way back to victory with goals from veteran forward Daniel “Magrease” Kamunhenga and Tendai Mujaji.

Only one point separate the two Mashonaland Central teams who are trying to bring Premiership football to the province for the first time since Mwana Africa were relegated seven years ago.

Kifton “Somalia” Kadurira, the Ngezi Platinum coach, led his side to an impressive 3-0 win over hapless Chegutu Pirates, with the victory easing pressure on the gaffer.

Karoi United and DStv Rangers battled out to a goalless draw.

Source : The Herald