BY FORTUNE MBELE
CHICKEN INN…… (1)4
Chicken Inn dismantled Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday in a friendly match that featured Innocent Mucheneka, who returned to the Gamecocks after being absent without official leave for the better part of the pre-season training.
The midfielder only returned to the team last week and the club yesterday said they had re-admitted him, but not without some punishment.
“We didn’t want to go public about it, but processes have been done and he has been dealt with,” Chicken Inn spokesperson Tavengwa Hara said.
Mucheneka had been reported to be club-hunting in South Africa, while also being linked with Harare football giants Caps United and Dynamos.
But he resurfaced with a bang yesterday, showing the Chicken Inn supporters what they could have missed this season had he decided to go away.
He scored the second goal for the Gamecocks on the hour mark against a Highlanders team who had most of their senior players absent due to an ongoing industrial action. The Highlanders players are owed their January and February salaries.
While Highlanders struggled to assemble a decent team, Chicken Inn paraded their new cast which includes Phakamani Dube, Valentine Kadonzvo, Malvin Gaki and Clive Augusto.
Sipho Ndlovu opened the scoring on the 36th minute before Mucheneka netted the second.
Nicole Mutatiwa completed the goal haul with a second half brace.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas was happy with the victory, but refused to be carried away.
“We are still building into the season and trying to get the right combinations and for the players to get a feel of match situations,” he said.
Highlanders assistant Bekithemba Ndlovu said: “We are not looking at the result. We are still in the pre-season. Most of our players were not there because of other issues and I think it is affecting everyone,” Ndlovu said.
Highlanders also had returning striker Prince Dube and new signings Cleopas Kapupurika, Russell Chifura, Mbekezeli Sibanda and goalkeeper Wellington Muuya.
Charlton Siamalonga, Bukhosi Ncube, Vincent Moyo and Under-20 captain Andrew Mbeba also featured for Highlanders who missed several chances against the Gamecocks who looked more organised, having already played other friendly matches, including participating in a four-team tournament in Malawi recently.
Kapupurika dazzled Chicken Inn defenders with fancy footwork in the second half, albeit inconsequentially.
Highlanders: W Muuya (E Nyathi 70′), B Ncube, C Kapupurika, D Jaricha (A Faira 61′), D Fosho (D Dlodlo 46′), A Mbeba, R Chifura, M Sibanda, C Siamalonga, V Moyo, P Dube
Chicken Inn: D Bernard (P Zendera 46′), P Dube, X Ndlovu, G Goddard (L Sithole 46′), M Jackson, S Munawa (J Nyabinde 46′) S Ndlovu, V Kadonzvo, M Gaki, O Chirinda (I Mucheneka 46′), C Augusto (N Mutatiwa 67′)