PSL champions Chicken Inn will have to overcome a lot of hurdles if they are to progress to the next round of the CAF Champions League when they face off against South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns this weekend.
The Gamecocks, who carry a slender one nil lead courtesy of a solitary Mitchell Katsvairo strike at Barbourfields Stadium a week ago, leave for Pretoria Wednesday ahead of the return fixture at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
The Brazilians, as Sundowns are affectionately known in their home country, have opted to play under flood lights, a situation that might prove an advantage to them as they are used to play at night.
Zimbabwean premiership teams rarely play night matches largely due to the crippling electricity shortages and the astronomical charges by power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).
Addressing journalists in Bulawayo yesterday, Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas, said playing under flood lights will the biggest test for them.
“Our biggest disadvantage is the issue of playing under lights. We have not played under lights before as you know football clubs here in Zimbabwe; fixtures are not played under lights which is our biggest worry,” said Antipas.
Club secretary Tavengwa Hara weighed in saying they are leaving early to help the team settle in and get used to the conditions.
“Some universities there are offering to give us their places for training so that’s why they are leaving tomorrow such that they can have time to train under the lights,” said Hara.
Khama back for Sundowns
Red-hot Sundowns winger, Khama Billiat, who sat out the first leg due to a slight knock is likely to back in the starting line-up and is likely to continue his rich vein of form that has seen him notching up 8 goals so far this season.
Chicken Inn themselves have been boosted by the return of midfield talisman Clemence Matawu, who missed the first leg due to injury. Matawu was instrumental in Chicken Inn’s successful PSL campaign, that saw them win the league title.
Quizzed on how they will approach the match, Antipas chose to be diplomatic saying they the match won’t be a stroll in the park as Sundowns would want to make amends for the first leg loss and progress to the next round.Advertisement
“Hopefully we can come out with a positive result. One thing we know is that we will have our work cut out because Sundowns will be coming for us,” Antipas said.
“They play 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 Sundowns on.”
Chicken Inn have organised transport for local fans who want to go and support the team in Pretoria.
They will also pin on the huge number of Zimbabweans based in South Africa to rally behind the team.