HARARE - Chicken Inn left for Tshwane, South Africa Wednesday for Saturday’s African Champions League preliminary round encounter against Mamelodi Sundowns in order to be more attuned to play under floodlights.
The reigning Zimbabwe champions lead the tie 1-0 after the first leg at Barbourfields Stadium over a week ago and the second leg will be staged under floodlights at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in the South African capital.
Sundowns have set kick-off for the match at 8:15pm and it will be screened live on pay-per-view satellite sports channel SuperSport.
The evening kick-off has destabilised Joey Antipas’ men preparations as they are not used to playing under floodlights.
In South Africa, evening matches are a prominent feature in the Absa Premier League something which is not a norm here in the Zimbabwean league.
Briefing journalists yesterday, Gamecocks secretary Tavengwa Hara they could not afford the amount required to switch on the floodlights at Barbourfields as it was too exorbitant.
“About floodlights; we tried to engage those who are in charge but the deposit we were told per hour was about $4 000 which is too high,” Hara said.
“The rates at which we have been promised in South are a bit low. Some universities there are even offering to give us their facilities for training so that’s why they are leaving tomorrow so that the players can have time to train under floodlights.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Gamecocks coach Joey Antipas said: “Our biggest disadvantage is the issue of playing under floodlights. We have not played under floodlights before as you know football clubs here in Zimbabwe; fixtures are not played in the evening, which is our biggest worry.” Besides the problem of playing at night, Antipas remained hopeful that his charges can brew a shocker and dump the super-rich South Africa’s giants out of the African Champions League.
“Hopefully we can come out with a positive result. One thing we know is that we will have our work cut because Sundowns will be baying for blood, because they also want to progress into the next round.
“We have to go with a cautious approach, we are not going to go and attack Sundowns and we are playing away so we have to come up with a game plan that suits us.
“They will be playing at their favourite hunting ground so we know it’s going to be difficult task for us. But we have been trying to prepare our guys physically and psychologically to take them on.”
Sundowns have failed to score in two consecutive matches as their triumvirate of Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly popularly known as CBD seem to be going through a lean spell.
Antipas, however, is still very concerned on stopping the CBD combination which has scored 24 goals and 17 assists in the Super Diski this season.
“They (CBD) would worry any team, just like (Lionel) Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar; that combination can worry any opponent and they can destroy any opponent so we are very worried about them,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have organised four busses which will carry their fans to South Africa to help cheer the team.
The buses will leave Bulawayo on Friday.
Chicken Inn have also engaged the Highlanders Supporters South Africa Chapter, who have also promised to coordinate their efforts to ensure Zimbabweans based in Mzansi will turn up at the Lucas Moripe Stadium to back Antipas’ men on Saturday night.