Zimbabwe Premier League: Ngezi, Chicken Inn, face off

Zimbabwean football fans cheer on their team Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Chicken Inn can consolidate their title challenge with victory at home to Ngezi Platinum on Saturday in what is a crucial Zimbabwe Premier League fixture.

The 2015 champions have battled their way back into contention in recent weeks, with a run of five wins in the last six matches bringing them to within nine points of log leaders FC Platinum.

Joey Antipas' team will undoubtedly be motivated for a victory against second-placed Ngezi, as they begin a tough run of fixtures which includes matches against Highlanders and CAPS United.

Victory at Luveve will enable Chicken Inn to cut the gap between them and Ngezi to four points, a massive boost for a team which not so long ago looked anything but title contenders.

In other Matchday 22 fixtures scheduled for Saturday, Platinum will look to kick on from their last- gasp 1-0 win a Bulawayo Chiefs, when they face Chapungu, another small but potentially tricky opponent.

Highlanders, meanwhile resume action with a trip to Gweru, while Harare giants Dynamos, who have also endured three weeks of inactivity, are at home to ZPC Kariba.

The big contest this weekend, thoughs is at Luveve as two in-form teams battle for momentum in the race for this year's title.

Going into the midseason break, it looked as though the contest for this year's title was fast shaping into a two-horse race between Ngezi and Platinum, as the other usual suspects wilted inexplicably.

Chicken Inn have since risen to the challenge, with victories over Herentals (2-0), Triangle (1-0), Nichrut (4-0), Mutare City (1-0) and Shabannie Mine (3-0), in their last six matches.

All these opponents are, however, in the bottom half of the log standings, and the Ngezi contest should provide a clearer indication of the depth of Chicken Inn's revival.

Ngezi have also shaken off some poor form with three consecutive wins and keep the dream of a maiden league title alive.

Tonderai Ndiraya has lost his most potent weapon on forward Terence Dzvukamanja, who has joined Bidvest Wits, but his team still possess enough fire power to remain relevant in the race for the championship.

Any setback for Ngezi could see Platinum stretching their lead at the top with victory over Chapungu at Mandava. Platinum have struggled to reproduce their best form since the midseason break, but they should have gained some measure of self-belief after the 1-0 win at Bulawayo City last week.

Elsewhere, CAPS coach Lloyd Chitembwe will be hoping his team shows some consistency when they take on Herentals at Rufaro Stadium.

CAPS have roped in Mitchell Kutsvairo, formerly with Kaizer Chiefs, to strengthen a forward line that has been missing chances by the bucketful, but it will take a more collective effort if they are to strike a consistent run.