Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
Highlanders 0-4 Chicken Inn
HIGHLANDERS were embarrassed by neighbours Chicken Inn with a 4-0 thumping in a friendly match played at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas fielded six new signings in the starting line-up; goalkeeper Donovan Bernard, right-back Phakamani Dube, central midfielder Sipho Ndlovu, attacking midfielder Valentine Kadonzvo, winger Marlvin Gaki and striker, Clive Agusto.
They all had a good game, with Ndlovu, signed from Bulawayo City, marking his arrival at Chicken Inn with a goal, heading in Kadonzvo’s corner kick in the 37th minute.
Innocent Mucheneka came from the bench and doubled the Gamecocks’ lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Winger Nicole Mutatiwa grabbed a brace for the Gamecocks, scoring his first goal in the 83rd minute and the second on the stroke of fulltime.
For his first goal, Mutatiwa reacted quickly to a goalkeeping boob by Erick Nyathi, who failed to handle Mucheneka’s shot and instead punched the ball into the path of the Chicken Inn forward to easily slot home.
Prince Dube captained the Highlanders’ squad made up of players from their development side Bosso 90 as well as first team players, goalkeeper Wellington Muuya, the defence quartet of Bukhosi Ncube, Charlton Siamalonga, Andrew Mbeba and Vincent Moyo, winger Cleopas Kapupurika, midfielder Mbekezeli Sibanda and striker Russell Chifura. The rest are still on strike over unpaid salaries.
Dube had a brilliant game, playing with purpose and showing great maturity. He was unlucky not to score on either side of the break after shooting straight at Bernard in the first half and then blazing his effort into the stands in the second stanza.
Kapupurika was a handful for Chicken Inn defenders, with his deft touches and dribbling skills winning Highlanders’ fans hearts.
Bosso matched Chicken Inn in the first half, but could not withstand the pressure mounted by the Gamecocks, who were clearly fitter than their opponents.
Chicken Inn were playing their fourth pre-season competitive match, having played three in Malawi last week. For Highlanders, it was their first competitive game of the year.
Highlanders clearly missed the services of some of their striking players.
“The boys played very well, displayed good soccer. The mixture was good for the technical team and the young boys played very well. We’re in the process of pre-season. Fitness wise we are not yet there and have to work on that. Of course, we wanted to win but as the technical team we were looking at the technical aspects of the game like technique, movement of the players and fitness,” said Bekithemba Ndlovu, the Highlanders assistant coach.
Chicken Inn coach Antipas said: “We are trying to get the right combinations and I think it wasn’t a bad performance. I was disappointed with our build-up game as we lost possession unnecessarily. We have to work on fluidity in attack as well as our build-ups.
“I think Highlanders had better scoring opportunities, especially in the first half, but we came back a better side in the second half.”
Highlanders: Wellington Muuya (Erick Nyathi, 68th minute), Bukhosi Ncube (Sylvester Ndlovu, 85th minute), Charlton Siamalonga, Andrew Mbeba, Vincent Moyo, Dominic Jaricha (Ashford Faira, 60th minute), Cleopas Kapupurika (Cardwell Gawaza, 85th minute), Donnet Fosho (Dalubuhle Dlodlo, 46th minute), Mbekezeli Sibanda, Prince Dube, Russell Chifura (Daniel Musendami, 68th minute)
Chicken Inn: Donovan Bernard (Pride Zendera, 46th minute), Phakamani Dube, Xolani Ndlovu, Moses Jackson, Guide Goddard (Last Sithole, 46th minute), Simon Munawa (Joe Nyabinde, 46th minute), Sipho Ndlovu, Valentine Kadonzvo (Nyasha Gurunde, 79th minute), Marlvin Gaki (Nicole Mutatiwa, 68th minute), Obriel Chirinda (Innocent Mucheneka, 46thminute), Clive Augusto (Obidiah Tarumbwa, 68th minute)