Joey Antipas savours title win

HARARE - New Kings of Zimbabwean football — Chicken Inn — who ended Dynamos’ dominance on Saturday, have made their coach Joey Antipas a proud man.

The Gamecocks swept past the 2015 Chibuku Super Cup winners — Harare City — to win their maiden league title in topflight football.

And Chicken Inn made sure that the title headed south after nine years of dominance by Harare teams — with Dynamos almost making it a habit of winning the coveted trophy.

Highlanders were the last team from the south western districts to win the league title, in 2006.

But yesterday, Antipas was beaming with pride after leading his team to their maiden Castle Premiership title on Saturday.

“I am very happy for Chicken Inn. Very happy, very grateful to the players, my coaching staff. I would also want to compliment the executive for coming up with the players we asked for. Were it not for them, the team could not respond in this way,” Antipas told the Daily News yesterday.

“I’m very proud of the team. We knew we needed to win our last two matches and we were determined not to linger on it.  I’m having the most pleasant feelings.  It’s a great happiness to see the results of your work together with the team. I want to congratulate everyone who contributed to the success of the team.”

Antipas made sure the Gamecocks held their nerves in the run-in which saw the team slipping temporarily in banana skin ties involving relegation-fighting sides — Tsholotsho and WhaWha, respectively. 

“We are happy this team won the first ever championship for the club. I never expected at the start of this season that we would win the title. It was very challenging,” said Antipas.

“After game six we went on top of the log and the confidence grew.” 

The former Motor Action coach, who took the reins at the Gamecocks in October 2013, picked up the trophy with a game to spare.

Chicken Inn’s triumph brought to an end Dynamos’ four-year dominance on the domestic front.

On Saturday, needing nothing short of victory with rivals FC Platinum and Dynamos having an outside chance, the Bulawayo-based side dismissed Harare City 3-1 with a performance worth of champions.

That victory took the Gamecocks to an unassailable 58 points after closest rivals FC Platinum were held to a 1-1 draw by CAPS United at Mandava, while Dynamos’ win at Rufaro against Chapungu counted for nothing.

The Gamecocks joined Motor Action, Gunners, Monomotapa and Amazulu as the only other clubs to have won the league title apart from the traditional three of Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United since the inception of the Premiership in 1993.

Antipas used his vast experience to ensure Chicken Inn crowned champions following their promotion to top-flight action in 2011.

Ironically, Antipas joined a short list of coaches who have won the title with more than two clubs having guided Motor Action to the title in 2010.

But perhaps his triumph with Chicken Inn could be the one he savours the most after overcoming a ban from Zifa for his alleged involvement in the match-fixing scam involving the Warriors in the Far East.

There are very few who doubt Antipas’ pedigree and it is no surprise that some of the country’s best coaches were all in agreement that Chicken Inn are worthy winners of the Castle Lager premiership title.

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