Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
CHICKEN Inn coach Joey Antipas has revealed they will give special attention to Mamelodi Sundowns high-flying forward Khama Billiat when they meet in a CAF Champions League tie at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Gamecocks are expected to fly to South Africa this afternoon for the preliminary round, second leg match.
The Zimbabwe champions carry a slender 1-0 lead courtesy of a Michelle Katsvairo wonder strike at Barbourfields.
Billiat, who is has set the Super Diski alight this season, is back in action after missing the reverse leg in Bulawayo when he failed to pass a late fitness test.
The return of the exciting forward completes the Mamelodi Sundowns’ “Pretoria CBD”, the attacking trio of Billiat, Leonardo Castro and Keegan Dolly, which has destroyed defences in the South African Premiership this season.
Antipas said while he acknowledges the threat posed by the whole Sundowns’ team, he was concerned about the cutting edge that Billiat could give their attack.
“Khama will be back in action and is the star player as we all know. We will try to give him special attention,” said Antipas.
“They (Sundowns) are not a one-man team and they have many good players in their ranks but as far as I am concerned I believe Khama is the man who makes them tick. My worry is on the floodlights and, so, by going tomorrow (today), we can have about three training sessions under floodlights and see how we do.”
The former Motor Action gaffer says they have no pressure going into the match.
“We are carrying a slender 1-0 lead but we will fight until the end,” said Antipas.
“As you know, in these Champions League games, the team that plays at home would be under pressure. So what we are hoping to do is to try and close them down so that they don’t play their normal game and try to hit them on the break.”
Antipas said they have been working at polishing some grey areas.
“We want to be as tidy as could be possible and not make mistakes,” said Antipas. “Matawu (Clemence) is back in the team and he is the only change to the final 18 which played in the first match. We have only dropped Canaan Nkomo from the team which played here.”
The match has attracted a lot of interest on both sides of the Limpopo. On Monday, it was the subject of a discussion on SuperSport magazine show, Backpages, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Carol Tshabalala and featured two South African journalists.
The Herald Senior Sports Editor Robson Sharuko was scheduled to be part of the discussion, via Skype, although technical challenges ruined that.
The South African journalists said Sundowns should not underrate the Zimbabwean champions as they can cause a major upset.
Chicken Inn skipper Danny “Deco” Phiri said they understand that the second leg away in South Africa would be a different challenge to the game at home.
“They are at home and it would be a tough match but we are also ready and have been working very hard,” said Phiri.
“We have been encouraging each other and talking about how crucial it is for us to win this game. We are confident and we will focus on our play and not look at our opponents.
“If we can manage to score an early goal it would be a plus for us. But we are not under any pressure. We are focusing on Sundowns as a team.”
Chicken Inn Final 18:
Goalkeepers: Elvis Chipezeze, Pride Zendera
Defenders: Passmore Bernard, Devine Lunga, Lawrence Mhlanga, Moses Jackson, Ben Nyahunzwi
Midfielders: Danny Phiri, Clemence Matawu, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, George Majika, Thabani Goredema, Brian Juru, Physwell Madhazi, Edmore Chirambadare
Strikers: Obidiah Tarumbwa, Mitchelle Katsvairo, Moses Demera