Antipas warns PSL rivals

HARARE - Joey Antipas has issued a stark warning to Chicken Inn’s rivals and said his side are intent on defending their Castle Lager Premiership title as the 2016 season gets into full swing this afternoon.The reigning league champions have the honour of opening the new season with a home match against last year’s runners-up Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.

The Gamecocks, who were crowned Zimbabwean champions for the first time at the end of last season, are hoping to make a positive start and probably set the tone for the rest of their campaign.

“The season starts now, and we are ready. It’s difficult to say where we are right now. We are in a process,” Antipas told the Daily News yesterday.

“I feel confident and motivated, thinking about where we can improve. I still have the same faith in the players that we can retain our title.

“It’s always good to win the opening game of the season. This is one game that can give us a morale boost.”

The Zimbabwean champions, who were knocked out in the first round of the African Champions League by Mamelodi Sundowns, retained the bulk of their stars who did duty for them last season.

Chicken Inn have added forward Moses Demera from Flame Lilly and midfielder Physiwell Madhazi, who was with relegated Dongo Sawmills, to their 2016 squad.

Antipas says while his side seem to have an upper hand over most of the Premier League teams following their participation in the Champions League, they would not underestimate Dynamos this afternoon.

“We started ahead of most of the teams in terms of preparations and we are maybe slightly at an advantage. But we are aware of the task that lies ahead against Dynamos,” Antipas said. 

“You can only underrate a team like Dynamos at your own peril. It is going to be a difficult game for us, we need to be very cautious. We really want the three points but at the same time we need to be careful.”

The last time the two teams met at Barbourfields, Dynamos prevailed 1-0 with striker Roderick Mutuma getting the solitary goal.

For the Glamour Boys, today’s match will provide their new Portuguese coach Paulo Jorge Silva a real test in local football.

Silva, who replaced Tonderai Ndiraya, was tasked to regain the title they lost to Chicken Inn in the 2015 season.

DeMbare, who also signed a number of new players, have been preparing for the new season and even took their preparations to Malawi — a clear sign of their intentions to regain the title.

After losing midfielder and playmaker Ronald Chitiyo and defender Blessing Moyo to Harare City, the Glamour Boys moved quickly to sign highly-rated midfielder Dominic Mukandi from bitter rivals CAPS United.

They have also signed midfielder Tichaona Chipunza and defender Jimmy Dzingai from Triangle, while winger Valentine Ndaba joins from Highlanders.

The record Zimbabwe champions have also added a number of youngsters from the juniors.

In other matches, FC Platinum, who are considered title contenders following a good run last season, will begin their quest with a home tie against Tsholotsho at Mandava Stadium this afternoon.

ZPC Kariba welcome Premiership returnees Boarder Strikers at Nyamhunga Stadium while Mutare City travel to Ngezi Platinum Stars in a battle of new comers.

Tomorrow will see CAPS United, who have been busy on the transfer market host Chapungu at the National Sports Stadium with Bulawayo giants Highlanders travelling to the Colliery for a date against Hwange.

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