Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S Caf Champions League representatives Chicken Inn will charter two buses to ferry supporters to Pretoria, South Africa, for the second leg of the preliminary round tie against Mamelodi Sundowns.
Chicken Inn carry a slender 1-0 lead going into the February 27 match that will be played at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
The Gamecocks will be hoping to knock out their fancied opponents to set up a Caf Champions League first round date against 2012 Caf Confederation Cup winners AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville.
Chicken Inn chairman Lifa Ncube said they were rewarding local football lovers for the support they gave them with an affordable and comfortable trip to South Africa.
“We had over 10,000 people watching our game against Sundowns and we think it’ll be good if we organise two coaches that will leave on Friday or early Saturday since we’ll play our game in the evening,” said Ncube.
“We’re engaged in talks with a reputable company so that fans travel at an affordable fare. Though we haven’t finalised the costs, what we’re negotiating for is between $50 and $70 return. We believe this will be the best way to say thank you to the fans,” he said.
Chicken Inn displayed a flawless performance against Sundowns at Barbourfields Stadium and won a lot of soccer fans’ admiration. The Gamecocks were tactically disciplined, restricting Sundowns to playing in less dangerous areas.
So solid was Chicken Inn’s backline that Sundowns’ dangerous attacking duo of Keegan Dolly and Leonardo Castro were forced to look for the ball outside the penalty area.
Chicken Inn’s defence was made up of right-back Passmore Bernard, left-back Devine Lunga and central defenders Lawrence Mhlanga and Moses Jackson.
Captain Danny “Deco” Phiri featured in front of the defence, collecting loose balls and thwarting Sundowns’ attacks through the middle where the visitors had Teko Modise and later on Mogakolodi Ngele.
Even efforts to penetrate Chicken Inn through the wings failed as Edmore Chirambadare and George Majika did well to track Sundowns’ overlapping wingbacks.
Obidiah Tarumbwa and Tafadzwa Kutinyu were deployed in central midfield, while scorer of the solitary goal Mitchelle Katsvairo played as a lone striker.
Phiri is confident that his side will sail through.
“I think as a team we did well and confidence is high among the guys. What we’ve to work on in the coming days is our fitness. Anything is possible if we work hard and stick to the coach’s game plan like we did and convert our chances. We know they’ll come at us from all angles, but we’ve to concentrate and maintain our shape. It’s possible to win that side,” Phiri said.
If Chicken Inn can close down midfielders Modise, Mzikayise Mashaba, Hlompho Kekana and Themba Zwane, and cut the supply line to Dolly, Castro, Cuthbert Malajila or Khama Billiat, then they could knock out the expensively assembled side from the African safari.