Fungai Muderere recently in Malawi
FORMER Warriors coach Kallisto Pasuwa reckons that Chicken Inn could again emerge as an indomitable force in local soccer this year after showcasing breathtaking football technical abilities at the Malawi Energem International Bonanza four-team invitational tournament last week.
Pasuwa said the Joey Antipas-led technical team had assembled a formidable collection of football stars.
“Antipas and his assistants have come up with another balanced side. The players have confidence and speed. I believe with this kind of arsenal at their disposal they will do well again in the forthcoming season,” said Pasuwa.
He singled out left back Nielson Ketala, midfield enforcer Cliff Dzingayi, twin centre backs Guide Goddard and Lukas Sibanda as some of the few players that dribbled into his heart.
“That left back (Ketala), has speed and skill. The dreadlocked midfielder (Dzingayi) is very gritty and his ball distribution is good. The twin centre backs Goddard and Lukas are good too which shows that Chicken Inn have a vision. It’s no wonder that they have been taking players to foreign leagues. They are slowly but surely becoming a club of choice back home in Zimbabwe,” added Pasuwa.
His sentiments were echoed by former Castle Lager Premier Soccer League chairman Twine Phiri who regularly visited the Gamecocks at Malawi’s Mpira Village where the 2015 local champions had established camp.
“They have just proved that they are a strong team. The backing that Chicken Inn got from Malawian nationals during the duration of the tournament speaks volumes about the players’ abilities. They will certainly do well in the 2020 season,” said Phiri soon after Gamecocks beat Malawi giants Nyasa Big Bullets 1-0 courtesy of a Nicole Mutatiwa beautiful strike to register their second win of the contest.
At the tournament, in which they edged another Malawi side Be Forward Wanderers 1-0 in their first game of the tour, Gamecocks also accounted for Mozambique giants UD Songo on a 2 nil scoreline to emerge as eventual winners.
Mutatiwa shrugged off an eye injury he picked days before the trip to Malawi for a tournament that saw midfield maestro Clemence Matawu, veteran defenders Ian Nekati, Passmore Bernard, Xolani Ndlovu, Moses Jackson, left footed midfielder George Majika, ex-Ngezi Platinum Stars’ duo of goalkeeper Donovan Bernard and Tinashe Chipunza, do well in Gamecocks colours.
Chicken Inn’s five star performances also came from shot stopper Pride Zendera, Sipho Ndlovu, stocky Obriel Chirinda, winger Malvin Gaki, skillful attacker Brett Amidu and hard running Brian Muza.
The Gamecocks were one of the busiest clubs on the transfer market in this pre-season and made eight new acquisitions. They also took their latest acquisitions Sibanda, Brian Giant, Shephered Mhlanga and Leroy Ndlovu for the Malawi tour.
Ndlovu (28), who was on target when Gamecocks beat competitive UD Songo, was the 2019 Zifa Northern Region Division One top scorer, with 20 goals for police outfit ZRP FC. Ahead of the start of the 2020 local league, the lanky Ndlovu became the eighth player to join the Gamecocks, who are eager to challenge for the title.
Meanwhile, after clinching the Energem International Bonanza four-team invitational tournament title, Antipas who is the country’s reigning Coach of the Year, welcomed the first team selection headache that he is likely to experience this season.
“To be frank, it’s going to be difficult to come out with a starting eleven. I welcome the player selection headache that we will probably experience week in week out. The pressure games that we played in Malawi helped us a lot and all the new signings that we took for the tour did well. We are in a very good situation and we hope to do well this season,” said Antipas.
In 2016, Chicken Inn were invited to a four-team tournament in Zambia which featured Azam of Tanzania, Zesco United and Zanaco. The following year, the Gamecocks played against Zanaco and Nkana Red Devils of Zambia in another pre-season event.