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Gamecocks square off with Bosso

by Staff reporter
30 May 2021 at 08:29hrs | Views
THE prolonged absence of football had really become a fuss for Joey "Mafero" Antipas, the Premier Soccer League's reigning Coach of the Year.

A frustrated Antipas even sought solace from one of his best hobbies bass fishing.

Darwendale Dam, just outside Harare, had become the new hunting ground for the Chicken Inn tactician.

Thankfully, the local Premiership finally returned last weekend, with exciting opening fixtures of the Chibuku Super Cup.

The Gamecocks beat elite league returnees Bulawayo City 2-0 at Barbourfields last Saturday and today they get a much bigger test of their pedigree when they come up against Highlanders in a crucial Bulawayo Derby that could set the tone in Group Two.

George Majika and Obriel Chirinda were on target for Chicken Inn when they began their campaign last weekend.

"It was great to be up and playing the game we love after the prolonged break," Antipas said.

The veteran gaffer has been urging his boys to stay calm ahead of the derby as he prepares to pit his wits against Highlanders coach Mandla "Lulu" Mpofu, who is also a former member of the Chicken Inn technical crew.

Highlanders also won their opening fixture against Bulawayo Chiefs courtesy of a solitary strike by new boy Washington Navaya, young brother to the late former Bosso star Macreza.

"Our preparations are going on just fine. We just need more game time like all teams do," Antipas said.

Chicken Inn have three players out due to injury and bereavement.

Skilful winger Malvin Gaki and Shepherd Mhlanga are injured while Warriors defender Ian Nekati is attending a family bereavement.

"All in all, we are ready to take on Bosso on Sunday (today). There is no difference in our preparations for this derby, we have been doing what we always do.

"But, the boys are psyched up for it. We just have to stay calm," said the Gamecocks gaffer.

Chicken Inn have added ex-Ngezi Platinum Stars speedy winger Michael Charamba and former Mushowani Stars skipper Clive Dzingayi to their books.

They still have the seasoned pair of Passmore Bernard and Moses Jackson at the back.

Valentine Kadonzvo and Tichaona Chipunza are some of the notable departures at Chicken Inn.

The 2015 league champions are yet to clinch the Chibuku Super Cup since its inception in 2014 but they go into this encounter carrying some bragging rights over their city rivals.

Chicken Inn have lost once against Highlanders in their last four league meetings and they could be fancying their chances as they seek to establish command in Group Two.

But this is a cup encounter and anything can happen.

Bosso gaffer Mpofu is aware of Chicken Inn's intentions but he believes the Bulawayo giants can rise to the occasion.

"We all know Chicken Inn's intentions. They are a club that is so ambitious, they have won something (Premier League title) before and they have good players and resources.

"It is not going to be easy for us but as Highlanders, we can rise to the occasion and make sure we go into the game to win it," Mpofu told the media in Bulawayo.

He will be banking on the experience of midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku, Warriors centre back Andrew Mbeba and the workaholic Adrian Silla.

The Highlanders coach also heaped praise on the club's new find, 22-year-old striker Navaya.

Navaya joined Highlanders from ZIFA Central Region Soccer League side ZPC Munyati and is expected to add teeth to a Bosso front line that also includes Ray Lunga, Godfrey Makaruse and Toto Banda who was signed from ZPC Kariba.

"I am happy for him (Navaya), he came to a big institution and it's not easy to play for Highlanders coming from out of town.

"Coming in to score on his debut is a morale booster for him.

"I hope he can continue to score without fans in the stadium so that his confidence can get better before fans come back.

"If he can score every week, he will be a deadly striker. Overall, in terms of his performance in training and during games, I am happy," Mpofu said.

The other teams in Group Two, Bulawayo Chiefs and Bulawayo City were in action at Barbourfields yesterday.

Source - sundaymail