Fungai Muderere, Senior Sports Reporter
CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League leaders Chicken Inn will play their first game after the mid-season break against Cranborne Bullets at Sakubva Stadium on Saturday without defenders Passmore Bernard and Itai Mabunu.
Bernard was shown a straight red right at the death of their tension filled Week 17 fixture against Triangle United at Gibbo Stadium which the visitors won 1-0.
Bernard will miss the Gamecocks’ next two matches, while the towering Mabunu, who is a product of the club’s juniors, has accumulated three yellow cards.
“It’s unfortunate that we are not going to have Passmore Bernard and Itai Mabunu as they are both suspended.
It’s a blow for us, but we are optimistic that the other guys we are going to throw in are going to do a good job in Mutare.
It’s the first game after the break and we will need to get a positive result to remain up there,” said Chicken Inn head coach Joey Antipas.
In the absence of Bernard and Mabunu, Michael Charamba, who was in the treatment room, and experienced utility player Guide Goddard will probably be preferred as replacements.
Antipas also revealed that while their midfield enforcer Richard Hachiro started full training on Monday after over a month on the sidelines through injury, they will not be tempted to throw him in against Cranborne Bullets.
“Hachiro started full training, but he is not 100 percent fit.
It might be good for him in terms of injury, but he is not match fit.
On his day, Hachiro is a player that can dominate the midfield and give us the result, but we cannot afford to risk him.
We can’t throw him in for just being Hachiro.
We need to be cautious.”
Chicken Inn lead the league table with 35 points from 17 matches and are one point ahead of joint second-placed FC Platinum and Dynamos.
Manica Diamonds are fourth on 29 points.
Defending champions FC Platinum will also travel to Mutare for a date with Tenax FC at Sakubva Stadium, while Dynamos will do battle against unpredictable Yadah at National Sports Stadium.