Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
CHICKEN Inn have set their sights on reaching the final of the ZNA Charities Shield, with coach Joey Antipas emphasising on the need to work on his team’s shortcomings by playing competitive matches during pre-season.
Chicken Inn will be involved in a Bulawayo derby against Highlanders on Sunday in the ZNA Charity Shield semi-final at Barbourfields Stadium.
Caps United won the 2017 ZNA Charity Shield when they beat Highlanders 3-2 in a penalty shootout in Bulawayo after the game had ended 0-0. Caps will play Dynamos in the other semi-final in Harare.
Chicken Inn are facing Bosso for the second time in the ZNA Charity Shield. Highlanders beat Chicken Inn 4-2 after a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals of the 2016 edition. The game had ended 1-1 in regulation time.
Going into Sunday, Chicken Inn, who were mauled 4-0 in their last league meeting with Highlanders in October, are favourites to march past Bosso.
The Bulawayo giants are going through a rebuilding exercise and are yet to strike the right chord, with their “youth brigade” yet to gel, while Chicken Inn have what looks like a healthy squad of seasoned players, most of whom they had last season.
Antipas said reaching the final will afford him a clear picture of what to expect from strong opposition this season. Just like Highlanders, the weekend game will be Chicken Inn’s second competitive match of the year. They played Zambian side Zanaco, who were preparing for a Caf Champions League encounter a fortnight ago, and beat the visitors 2-1.
“It will be great to proceed to the final of the ZNA Charity Shield and meet either Dynamos or Caps United just to have an appreciation of what they look like. Playing highly competitive games during pre-season will also afford us an opportunity to gauge our technical and tactical abilities as well as the fitness of our players. I believe the game against Highlanders will be great,” said Antipas.
He said he would also use the match to finalise his squad.
“We’ve brought on board Kudzai Chideu, Simon Munawa, Wellington Kamudyariwa, Toto Banda and Adrian Banana. There are also one or two players that we’re yet to decide on and we can use the game against Highlanders to give the new signings and the players that are undergoing trials a run,” Antipas said.
Meanwhile, organisers of the tournament have retained the $3 rest of the ground gate charges and $5 for the VIP wings.
Proceeds from the tournament will be channelled towards the army’s charities.
The ZNA charities are Tsanga Lodge Convalescent Centre in Nyanga for the rehabilitation of injured soldiers; the Benevolence Fund for the welfare of troops on internal, external and international operations, ZNA Schools Welfare Trust, which has a total of 12 primary and five secondary schools as well as the Widows and Orphans’ Fund that takes care of widows of soldiers before they receive terminal benefits.