Makomborero Mutimukulu in PRETORIA, South Africa
ZIMBABWE champions Chicken Inn trained twice yesterday amid some hullabaloo in the South African media about how Joey Antipas’ men have never played under floodlights before.
The Gamecocks are here for a CAF Champions League preliminary round, second leg tie against Mamelodi Sundowns scheduled for tomorrow night at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
Kick off is at 8pm. Chicken Inn go into the match enjoying a 1-0 advantage after a Mitchell Katsvairo first half strike swung the pendulum in their favour at Barbourfields a fortnight ago.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has been telling everyone who cares to listen that the result from the first leg was a fluke, the pitch was hard and his men were drained after playing Orlando Pirates a day before they flew to Bulawayo. It’s a claim that is being swallowed hook, line and sinker down here.
A lot is also being made about revelations made by Antipas that his men are yet to play under floodlights. Several South African newspapers yesterday carried stories on how playing at night will “definitely” affect the visitors.
The stories are laughable with one in The New Age , headlined “Chickens fear the lights”, even seeking to paint Chicken Inn as a side that is coming from abject poverty.
“There is some encouraging news coming out of Zimbabwe for Pitso Mosimane and Mamelodi Sundowns ahead of the Caf Champions League second leg clash against Chicken Inn,” wrote Mmasekepe Matsebane.
After such an intro, one would have expected to read about an injury to Katsvairo or a strike over bonuses rocking the Chicken Inn camp.
“The Zimbabwean champions have never played at night under floodlights and this is a big worry as their Champions League preliminary round match on Saturday will be played in the evening.
“Socio economic challenges, power cuts and the poor economy have forced all Zimbabwe’s Premier Soccer League matches to be played in the afternoons.”
Amid such comical claims Chicken Inn , who arrived here on Wednesday, got down to business yesterday with a morning workout at the match venue yesterday while another one was scheduled for 8 pm. With a clean bill of health, Antipas and his technical team are fine-tuning a game plan aimed at suffocating a Sundowns side that has been bossing the Absa Premiership.
“What happened in the first game is water under the bridge, this is a new game and we don’t have to lose it,” the reigning Coach of the Year told his charges.
“We have a game plan and we have to stick to it, let’s play to our strengths and be switched on at all times.
“These guys are eager to show their fans that the result at BF was a mistake so they will be baying for our blood from the first whistle but we shouldn’t be scared, these are the games you have to show that you are ready to die for the team.”
Antipas and his men watched and took notes as their opponents bounced back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Mpumalanga Black Aces on Wednesday evening. Warriors forward Khama Billiat once again put up a man-of-the-match performance for the Absa Premiership log leaders.
That result ended a two-match winless run that began with Sundowns’ fall to Chicken Inn before being followed up by a goalless stalemate against Kuda Mahachi’s Golden Arrows.