Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
HARARE City midfielders Ronald Chitiyo and Tendai Samanja have been rested this weekend to recover from injuries when the Sunshine Boys take on Chicken Inn in two practice matches today.
Both teams are warming up for the return legs of their CAF inter-club competitions due next weekend when the Sunshine Boys travel to Madagascar to face AS Adema in the second leg of the Confederation Cup preliminary round while Chicken Inn have a bigger task in South Africa.
After taking a 1-0 win over Supa Disk giants Mamelodi Sundowns in their maiden Champions League match last week at Barbourfields, the Gamecocks would need to protect the slender lead under floodlights next Saturday.
Harare City edged AS Adema 3-2 at Rufaro and their coach Taurai Mangwiro yesterday said they are aiming to go for the kill to make up for the two goals they conceded at home.
City, however, would need to manage the injuries in their camp by closely monitoring Chitiyo and Samanja, who they badly need for their trip to Madagascar.
The duo joined in the casualty ward, defender Jimmy Tigere, who has been sidelined for six weeks with a foot injury.
Chitiyo scored one of the goals in the first leg win while Raphael Manuvire weighed in with a brace last week.
Mangwiro said the Sunshine Boys would need to compensate for their lack of high-profile practice games by engaging the Gamecocks twice this afternoon.
The Sunshine Boys believe they are still in control of their destiny and do not feel threatened by the Malagasy side.
“It was unfortunate that we got into the battle with our first competitive match being the one against AS Adema and after that match we are now hoping to make amends.
“We had to dig deep to win that match but I liked the spirit shown by these guys after conceding those two goals in a short space of time.
“Last year we didn’t have such kind of mental strength to fight back and win games.
“So what it means now is that we have to go there and win the reverse leg at all cost. It’s very possible from what I saw in the first leg because, apart from those five minutes of madness, we were in total control of the game and had several chances which we wasted.
“We need to be more precise in front of goal and also avoid being careless at the back.
“But most importantly at this juncture we need to be active and that is the reason we are playing Chicken Inn twice tomorrow (today). The first game is at 12:30pm and the second on 3:00pm.
“Unfortunately, Tigere is out for six weeks but with Chitiyo and Samanja, we didn’t want to gamble with them. We are confident they will be back to full fitness for the second leg in Madagascar,” said Mangwiro.
The former CAPS United coach reckons they could have done better at home and was unhappy with some local supporters who jeered his team in the first leg.
The taunting was done by a small section believed to be Dynamos fans hurt by Harare City’s acquisition of their former players Blessing Moyo and Chitiyo during the off-season break.
“To be honest I was kind of disturbed when I read that supporters were strongly behind Chicken Inn at Barbourfields yet here at Rufaro we had a divided house.
“I must appreciate the backing from some staunch Dynamos and CAPS United fans whom I saw in the stands, and our own as well who had energy right to the end. To such people you would feel you let them down if you don’t win.
“But there were some elements at the Vietnam bay who clearly rooted for the visitors and jeered their own countrymen for reasons known to themselves. I think we were unfortunate we had some guys who had returned from the CHAN tournament with a bad tag and these were easy targets.
“I wouldn’t want to take this as an excuse but some of those players didn’t come to the party because they were put under undue pressure by the condemning fans.
“The way they jeered Francisco Zekumbawira when he missed a chance wasn’t good.
“Surely may I ask, ‘have our rivalries come to this?’ This is supposed to be a Zimbabwean cause and everyone should play their part no matter our differences here. Let’s show some unity when it comes to international assignments,” said Mangwiro.