BY KEVIN MAPASURE
CAPS UNITED . . . . . (0) 1
CHICKEN INN . . . . . (1) 3
LOCAL football fans were given real value for money when the top two teams on the league table — Caps United and Chicken Inn — produced an enthralling contest at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Chicken Inn claimed the spoils at the end following some clinical work at the tip of their attack by Clive Augusto.
The Caps United versus Chicken Inn Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match received a lot of hype during the course of last week, which heightened expectation and anticipation among the fans.
The game could have gone either way, but the difference was that Augusto took his chances, while at the other end, Caps United were wasteful in front of goal.
Dominic Chungwa, who scored Caps United’s consolation, could have also walked away with the match ball.
Referee Norman Matemera was also central to the story after he awarded Chicken Inn an indirect free kick inside the box, adjudging that Caps United goalkeeper Chris Mverechena had handled from a back pass despite that the visitors’ attacker Brett Amidu had a touch of the ball.
It was a key moment in the match as Chicken Inn used the opportunity to stretch their lead to 2-0 just after the half-time break.
Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe felt that his team had been hard done by the referee.
“Well, what can I say? This is Zimbabwe and the referees are the main men. I thought the referee was culpable in that goal, he played a big part in that,” he complained.
“I thought the Chicken Inn player had a touch before Chris picked up the ball. For reasons better known to the referee, he thought otherwise and what can we do? Nothing. We just take the result and move on.”
The Green Machine, who ceded top spot to the Gamecocks following yesterday’s result, struggled for fluency in the first half, while the visitors always looked dangerous each time their attackers were in possession.
Chicken Inn left winger Valentine Kadonzvo gave Kudzai Nyamupfukudza, playing in place of suspended captain Valentine Musarurwa, a hard time and he was the channel for most of the
For the first goal, Kadonzvo dribbled past Nyamupfukudza before delivering a cross that Caps failed to deal with until it reached the lethal Augusto, with an easy finish 23 minutes into the match.
But by then, one always felt there was a way back for Caps United with the way they were playing, especially when their wingers, Phenias Bhamusi and Gabriel Nyoni, carried the ball towards the opposition penalty area.
Joel Ngodzo was also having a good game picking out passes with precision, but with Caps United insisting on playing from the back despite Chicken Inn’s press, they always looked vulnerable.
In the second half, the Green Machine were a better lot and showed their hunger to get the equaliser, but they became too desperate too soon and, as a result, made many mistakes as they tried to move the ball quickly from defence to attack.
Once they fell further behind following the controversial moment that resulted in the Gamecocks’ second goal, they changed things around and switched to a back three.
They fashioned out a number of chances which went to waste, while on occasions, they just didn’t have the luck.
Nyoni had a header that bounced off the cross bar, while on a couple of occasions, the Green Machine failed to take advantage of goalkeeper Donovan Bernard leaving his goal unattended.
Second half substitute Ronald Chitiyo had a shot cleared off the line with the goalkeeper beaten, while Nyoni forced a save out of Bernard.
On 73 minutes, Caps United halved their deficit and looked good for an equaliser.
Chungwa could have doubled his tally for the day, but with Bernard way off his line, the Green Machine forward lofted the ball over the bar.
With Caps having thrown numbers forward, there was a lot of space for Chicken Inn to work with.
Kadonzvo was a constant threat for Chicken Inn, but Caps United were doing well with their off side traps.
With six minutes left of play, Augusto and Kadonzvo combined to flatten Caps and ensure all three points after the former picked the bottom corner of the goal from outside the box following some good work by the latter.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas was pleased with the win, saying they had done their homework on Caps and their plan worked out.
“We worked hard for this game and everything worked out for us. We are really chuffed. Caps like to build from the back, so we pressed high and they kept trying to play from the back. Our speedy attack gave them problems,” he said.
CAPS UNITED: C Mverechena, K Nyamupfukudza, G Goriyai (R Chitiyo 58’), M Mwanjale, B Sarupinda, P Bhamusi, J Ngodzo, G Nyoni, J Zhuwawu, D Chungwa
CHICKEN INN: D Bernard, G Goddard, X Ndlovu, T Chipunza, P Dube, S Munawa, C Matawu (M Gak 85’), C Augusto (O Tarumbwa 87’), B Amidu (Muchaneka 65’)