Luv Dat Chicken! Gamecocks complete season in style

HARARE - Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas is delighted with the way his side performed throughout the season which brought a reward of the Castle Lager Premiership trophy yesterday.

The Gamecocks sealed the championship last weekend when they beat Harare City in Bulawayo to move into an unassailable 58 points.

Yesterday, the Bulawayo-based side completed their season with victory over relegated Flame Lily courtesy of second half goals from midfielder Clemence Matawu and centre back Lawrence Mhlanga.

Flame Lily got their consolation after Gamecocks left back Devine Lunga scored an own goal in added time.

The win rounded off an impressive season for Antipas’ men, who have been at the top of the log since week 6.

Chicken Inn fought off stiff challenge from FC Platinum and outgoing champions Dynamos to clinch their first title in the top flight following their promotion in 2011.    

“It’s a great feeling. We worked very hard for the championship. We put in a lot of effort into the season and hard work has paid off,” Antipas said yesterday.

“We just have to continue working and I’m very happy for the players, the club; we are a Bulawayo-based team and I’m very happy for the people of Bulawayo.

“It’s a great feeling and I wish we could win the championship every year. We just have to celebrate this championship.  It’s a great feeling to be a champion. You can never get enough of it.”

Gamecocks captain Danny Phiri praised his teammates and Antipas for withstanding the challenge from the chasing pack especially in the last few weeks when they began dropping points.

“It was a tough season but I’m happy we got what we wanted in the end. From week six we have been at the top of the log and it was hard to maintain that lead,” said Phiri.

“All I can say is that team work and hard work paid off for us. Also credit must go to the coach.

“There were games when we came back late against How Mine, Chapungu and Tsholotsho that’s when I started to believe that this is our time to win the league.

“When we lost at home against Dynamos we never lost hope that we were going to win and that’s what we did. In the last few weeks when we were failing to win games, there was a lot of pressure on the squad but when we won against Harare City that’s when we sealed the championship.

“Before that win against Harare City we were now afraid that we would lose the championship but at the end we managed to prevail.”

Gamecocks chairperson Lifa Ncube: “Finally, it has happened and we have been presented with our trophy. We are very happy and we are grateful to the team, they have done very well."

However, the Zimbabwean champions will not feature in the African Champions League due to funding constraints

“It was a tough decision but it had to be taken especially when you consider the economic climate we are currently experiencing in the country.

“The funding is just hard-pressed and for us to embark on such a costly exercise we felt it would strain us and it was better to concentrate on the local league by defending our title next season.

“Obviously, the players were disappointed but sometimes tough decisions have to be made.”