Dynamos, Chicken Inn do battle

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Dynamos players celebrate Washington Pakamisa's goal

CHICKEN Inn and Dynamos are the two stand-out performers of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League this far.

BY HENRY MHARA

The two meet in the top-of-the-table clash at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow in a match that will certainly test their resolve early on.

It promises to be an enthralling affair with both teams in their best shape, having had their finest start to the season in four years.

Chicken Inn currently top the log with 15 points from a possible 18, one better than their opponent.

The last time Chicken Inn came close in having that kind of form was in 2011 when they notched 13 points after stringing four straight wins and a draw, while their worst start was in 2013 when they recorded just seven in six outings.

This season, they have been the quickest off the blocks with five wins and one defeat, the kind of form that would give coach Joey Antipas and his team confidence going into their biggest match so far.

“It (the good run) has given us confidence. If we beat Dynamos, it will give us confidence going into the next matches,” Antipas told NewsDay Sport this week.

“We are aware we are facing the defending champions and we have a game on our hands. We have a closely-knit team and I think it is unity more than anything else that has helped us to be where we are right now.

He added: “We don’t have individual stars, we play as a team and stick to the basics of the game. We are just going into the match against Dynamos with a positive mind. We are not talking about challenging for the championship yet, but are taking it game by game.”

Dynamos, on the other hand, have had their best start to the season in four years. The last time they came close to equaling their current start was in 2012 when they recorded 13 points while under Lloyd Mutasa, but his season later deteriorated and he was subsequently fired.

Then came Kalisto Pasuwa, the record-breaking coach who went on to win his first of the four titles.

This year, under David Mandigora after Pasuwa walked away at the end of last season, the team has been flying, the only unbeaten side thus far.

Dynamos technical bench has been impressed by the players and is hopeful the team will keep the momentum, starting with tomorrow’s match.

“We have had a very good start, but like we always say, it’s a long way to go,” assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya said yesterday.
“In this marathon, you always want to have a good start, be consistent, and have a strong finish, so we are advocating for that.

“We are always talking to the boys so that we don’t lose focus, keep on working hard so that we maintain the form we have had so far and collect as many points as possible, but the key thing is consistency. If you want to do well, you have to be very consistent and we try to psychologically work on the boys so they keep their feet on the ground.”

Going into the match, Dynamos have a big injury worry with Sydney Linyama doubtful after missing the team’s friendly match against Division One side Mushowani Stars on Thursday due to illness.

The defender, who has played in the team’s every league match this far, was expected to be assessed yesterday.

However, Ndiraya is not worried.

He said they had able replacements — Godknows Murwira, a star player even in his days at Shabanie Mine, Elisha Muroiwa, Blessing Moyo and Obey Mwerahari.

Meetings between the two sides have always been feisty with very little separating them.

With just one point separating them at the top of the league table, Dynamos will be hoping to collect maximum points while a draw will only benefit third-placed Triangle in the event they Lowveld side win their home match against an inconsistent Harare City.

Triangle has had a storming start to the season with their only defeat of the season coming last week at Flame Lilly, a result that cost them pole position.

Elsewhere, Hwange host Dongo Sawmills in a relegation scrap, while Buffaloes and Chapungu meet in the army derby at Sakubva Stadium.

Buffaloes are currently in the relegation zone, but so congested are the teams at the bottom that a win here will see them possibly moving into the top eight.