Premier Soccer League champions Chicken Inn skipper Danny “Deco” Phiri has said his team will have to improve on fitness levels ahead of the preliminary round second leg match of the Caf Champions League at Lucas Moripe Stadium in two weeks.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
The GameCocks beat the highly-regarded Sundowns on Sunday with a solitary first half goal by Michelle Katsvairo in the first leg at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
Chicken Inn players were seemingly running out of steam in the second half and they sat back.
Fitness problems were to be expected of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions, who are on the off-season break playing against The Brazilians, who are in the second half of their domestic season.
Pitso Mosimane’s team has been riding high and Chicken Inn only broke their 19-game unbeaten run at the weekend.
While Phiri is concerned about fitness, he belives his team will need to improve on taking chances in the second leg if they are to progress.
The Chicken Inn skipper spent much of the squad’s training time ahead of the first leg on the sidelines due to injury, missing out on the four-team tournament in Zambia.
“I think I am now fully fit. On Saturday, they were just cramps and not anything serious, that is why I had to be attended to in the second half,” Phiri said.
“But I think as a team, we have to work hard on our fitness in the next two weeks before we go to South Africa. Anything is possible if we work hard around getting fit and converting our chances during the game we can win that side.”
Chicken Inn did well to shut out the likes of Teko Modise, Mzikayise Mashaba, Hlompho Kekana and rightback Asavela Mbekile, stifling the supply lines to the marauding Keagan Dolly and Themba Zwane and rendering gunman Leonardo Castro virtually ineffective.
They congested the midfield and maintained a deep defensive line that denied Dolly and Zwane free-play and without Khama Billiat, Sundowns were inept in attack.
Chicken Inn wingbacks Devine Lunga and Passmore Bernard and the central defence pair of Lawrence Mhlanga and Moses Jackson were in good form with Phiri, Tafadzwa Kutinyu, George Majika, Edmore Chirambadare and Obidiah Tarumbwa in the centre.
After the game, Sundowns’ captain Thabo Nthethe admitted Chicken Inn were too strong for them, but also said they still had a chance to make amends in the second leg.
“We are still in the game. We knew it was going to be tough because they were playing at home and they were stronger than us and that is why they won,” Nthethe said.
Chicken Inn have to go for broke and go for an early goal in Pretoria if they nurse hopes of progressing to the next round of the Caf Champions League.