The Warriors preparations for the African Nations Championship (Chan) finals to be played in Rwanda later this month have hindered Chicken Inn’s arrangements, as they venture into the African safari.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions begin their preparations tomorrow, but they will be without some of their key players, who are in the Chan squad.
Chicken Inn have a Caf Champions League preliminary round tie against South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns, with the first match slated for February 14, just seven days after the Chan final.
When they begin their preparations they will be without goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze, defender Lawrence Mhlanga, midfielder George Majika and strikers Edmore Chirambadare and Moses Demera.
Chicken Inn host Sundowns in Bulawayo in the first leg of the preliminary round next month a week after the Chan finals in Rwanda.
Club chairman Lifa Ncube yesterday said it would not be easy for coach Joey Antipas to work out combinations without the five players, particularly for new acquisition Demera, grabbed from relegated Flame Lily, but was quick to point out that the players’ participation at Chan could work in his club’s favour.
“We start our preparations on Tuesday (tomorrow). Deco (Danny Phiri), Tafadzwa Kutinyu and Teenage Hadebe are no longer part of the Warriors squad, they are already in Bulawayo and that is a plus,” he said.
“It will be difficult for the coach to work out combinations without those five players, especially for Demera, who is new. At least the other players Lawrence, Majika and Chirambadare already know their colleagues. But it will also be good if the Warriors reach the finals, as our boys will be match-fit if they remain part of the squad.”
The Chan tournament runs from January 16 to February 7, while the Gamecocks entertain Sundowns on the weekend of February 12-14.
Chicken Inn have added five players to their squad bringing in Demera, Physwell Madhazi from Dongo Sawmill and grabbed the Bantu Rovers duo of Hadebe and Obadiah Tarumbwa, who were on loan to Highlanders last year.
They promoted right-link Nicholas Muchadeyi from their junior ranks. Harare City, who play in the Caf Confederation Cup, have six players in the Warriors