Gamecocks rely on squad depth

HARARE – After gaining a two-point lead on the premiership table, Chicken Inn are looking well poised to wrestle the PSL title largely due to depth and experience in their squad.

While there is still room for a lot more twists in the remaining 12 matches in the Castle Lager Premiership, one of the biggest strengths the Gamecocks have up their sleeve is the incredible depth in almost every department.

On Saturday, Chicken were far from their best but still managed to grind a 0-1 victory over Black Rhinos, courtesy of a Moses Jackson header in the second half at Rufaro Stadium.

That win took Rahman Gumbo’s side to the summit with 45 points after 22 rounds of action.

The Gamecocks, who won their maiden title in 2015 under the guidance of Joey Antipas, appear to have the requisite squad to cope with the rigours of a long season, thanks to the presence of a bevy of talented young and experienced players within their ranks.

Chicken Inn have maintained the core of their championship winning team led by veteran Clemence Matawu while also adding some equally talented and experienced players in Darryl Nyandoro and Chris Samakweri, who are not strangers to winning titles.

Samakweri was part of the Monomotapa team that won the championship in 2009 before going on to win more silverware with DR Congo giants TP Mazembe, this time alongside Nyandoro.

Again, the arrival of such players like the exciting midfielder Innocent Mucheneka and hard-running Kuda Gurure as well as the experienced Collins Duhwa has further swelled an already balanced Chicken Inn.

The Gamecocks are unbeaten in their previous seven matches and after watching their game against Black Rhinos, one would be forgiven to suggest that Gumbo’s charges appear to have the Premier League title in the bag already.

Gumbo had the privilege to leave some of his best players on the bench like veterans Brian Juru and Obadiah Tarumbwa but still came out with maximum points.

The former Warriors coach himself, is no stranger to winning the title having done so twice with Highlanders and beyond the borders in Malawi and Botswana and has made it clear that his target is winning this year’s championship.

“Like I said, we have got our own targets that we have set and we are still within our targets.

“Today’s game, I think Rhinos played very good football, they gave us a good run for our money but at the end of the day, we came here to grind a result and we got it,” Gumbo said after the win over Rhinos.

“We were not superior to Rhinos, I think it was a balanced game.

“I think we took the chance that we got and that was the only difference. Rhinos missed some chances and I think that was the major difference.

“We want to see how far we can go; we just want to keep on collecting points. We are going for the championship and if you can get a result against a strong side like Rhinos, it shows where we are going. We are making our statement clear.”

Gumbo is banking on depth in his team to out-muscle their rivals in the title race.

“We have depth,” Gumbo said. “We have just got to be really good with how we use them and how we set the team up.

“We knew what we wanted and we prepared for the season. We knew it was going to be a long season so we needed to have enough depth to also cater for injuries.”

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