Hope for Gamecocks

HARARE - Chicken Inn’s chances of reaching the African Champions League first round at the expense of Mamelodi Sundowns are looking brighter with each passing day.

The Zimbabwe champions carry a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg at Barbourfields Stadium a week ago going into Saturday night’s second leg at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Tshwane.

After going on an unbeaten run that spilled into 19-games in all competitions in South Africa, the Brazilians’ fine form was halted by the Gamecocks in that first leg in Bulawayo.

It seems Sundowns have lost their mojo in front of goal as they failed to bounce back from the defeat to Chicken Inn when they were held to a goalless draw by Golden Arrows in the Absa Premiership on Saturday night.

This means Pitso Mosimane’s much feared CBD combination of Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly has gone for 180 minutes without scoring a goal.

Such a barren run can be considered a drought due to the high standards CBD has set in the Super Diski this season.

Castro, Billiat and Dolly have scored 24 goals with 17 assists between them in all competitions thus far as Sundowns threaten to run away with the Absa Premiership title.

On Saturday night, Mosimane was left perplexed how his deadly trio had failed to penetrate a plucky Arrows defence.

“We threw everything at them,” a frustrated Mosimane told SuperSport after the match in reference to Arrows’ dogged defensive tactics.

“It was a game played in one half, but what can you do? It’s difficult. They sit back and park the bus … and well parked.

“What can you do? When a team plays like that, you have to respond the way we responded. Unfortunately, the small chances we got, we didn’t get the goal.”

If Chicken Inn can put up such a spirited defensive performance like the one exhibited by Golden Arrows then Joey Antipas’ men can pull off a shocker in the second leg.

Antipas feels his side has a good chance of emerging from Tshwane unscathed if they employ the right tactics like how Arrows approached the game on Saturday night.

“This is a new game altogether and we have to be at our best if we are to get a positive result,” Antipas told the Daily News.

“It happens in football when a team goes through such a spell and when they are able to score goals like what is happening to Sundowns.

“There are different tactics for every game and for our second leg I’m sure we will come up with a strategy to try and stop Sundowns.”

The reigning Zimbabwe Coach of the Year is, however, fully aware of the firepower at Mosimane’s disposal.

“One thing though about Sundowns is that they are a quality side and on their day they can be free scoring so we have to be very careful,” he said.

The Gamecocks received a major boost last Saturday after influential and experienced midfielder Clemence Matawu completed a full 90 minutes during a friendly against Harare City in Bulawayo.

Matawu missed the first leg against Sundowns after suffering a knock during the NetOne One Wallet Cup final defeat to Highlanders in December last year.

The former Warriors midfielder is now expected to be in the squad travelling to South Africa for the second leg this week.


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