CHICKEN Inn are still considering whether to participate in the 2016 Caf Champions League, after securing their maiden Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title at the weekend.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The championship was confirmed on Saturday after the GameCocks’ 3-1 win over Harare City at Luveve Stadium.
The Joey Antipas coached side became the fourth team from Bulawayo, after Highlanders, Zimbabwe Saints and AmaZulu, to win the title.
Chicken Inn chairperson, Lifa Ncube, yesterday said the club is yet to decide whether to journey into the African safari next year.
“We don’t know yet. No decision has been made yet. We have to look into our budget before we make that decision,” he said.
If Chicken Inn passes on the opportunity, it would open a window for either FC Platinum or Dynamos.
The two teams are tied on 54 points going into the final round of matches at the weekend and both will be aiming for second position.
FC Platinum would probably be resourced enough to participate in the continental competition, but Dynamos may find it difficult especially as their main sponsors, BancABC, have been cutting on the budgets for funding football.
In 2012, Chicken Inn finished third of the log, behind Dynamos and Highlanders and since Bosso were banned from continental football that year, the GameCocks were offered an opportunity to play in Africa, which they chose not to take.
Zimbabwean teams generally have not fared well in the African safari, except Dynamos in 1998, when they reached the finals of Champions League, losing 4-2 on aggregate to Asec Mimosa.
Chicken Inn is still soaking in the glory after their title triumph, becoming the first team from the City of Kings to win the championship since 2006.
On Saturday they knew they needed to win their game regardless of results elsewhere.
FC Platinum were held to a 1-1 draw and after Chicken Inn routed Harare City, DeMbare’s result was inconsequential.
Two quick goals in the first half from George Majika and Tafadzwa Kutinyu, as well as a late strike by Michelle Katsvairo in the 84th minute ensured Chicken would not miss the opportunity for glory. It was coach Antipas’ second title after winning it with Motor Action in 2010 and he was over the moon with the latest achievement.
“It feels great to win two championships with two different clubs. What I am happy about is winning the championship for Bulawayo. We have been starved of the championship since 2006, so I am very excited,” he said.
“Thanks to the Chicken Inn supporters for supporting us throughout the season. Even in their difficult times they continued supporting us.”
Captain Danny Phiri, who is likely to emerge a transfer target for some big teams, expressed delight at winning the title and declared he would be staying with the club.
“It is a wonderful feeling to get my first championship medal. It is a dream come true and I am not going anywhere, this is my team and I am staying,” he said.
Club secretary, Tavengwa Hara, said he was pleased they had won the championship with one match to spare, having worked hard throughout the season.
“I have never been this happy. It was tough, but the guys were raring to go. It was our year,” he said.
“From week six, we were on top of the log and we managed to maintain it and now we have clinched the championship. We told the boys to go on to the end and we thought we were going to win it in Harare on the last day, but it is fortunate we got it here.”