BY FORTUNE MBELE
CAPS United face one of their biggest hurdles in their championship bid when they travel to Bulawayo for a clash with Chicken Inn in a potentially feisty encounter at Barbourfields Stadium this afternoon.
The Green Machine, winners of the championship three years ago, have had a great season this far, leading the log table with 50 points, five ahead of closest challengers, FC Platinum, with Chicken Inn in third place and seven points off the pace with only eight matches before the curtain comes down on the soccer calendar.
Unbeaten in their last six matches in which they also accounted for Hwange 3-1 in their last home match, Caps keep growing in confidence; they remain optimistic and keep believing this could be yet another good season for them.
Although they will be without injured inspirational defender Method Mwanjale, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering an ankle injury and Kudzai Nyamupfukudza, who is nursing an injury, Caps welcome back striker John Zhuwawo, who was hauled off in the victory against Hwange after suffering an injury.
Zhuwawo has been training with the team since last week Friday and is expected to play a part against the Bulawayo side.
Caps will be hoping they win today’s clash and FC Platinum lose to Dynamos which would help them extend their lead at the summit of the table.
However, Chicken Inn – also in the frame for the championship – will be seeking to recover, having won only one match in their past five matches, while losing one and drawing the other two.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas returns to lead his team against the Green Machine, having been with the national soccer team in Lesotho where he saw them qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) tournament.
Four key players, Tichaona Chipunza, Xolani Ndlovu, Valentine Kadonzvo and Obriel Chirinda, who were also part of the Warriors’ squad have also returned and are expected to play a huge part in today’s match.
However, the Gamecocks will be missing central defenders, Guide Goddard, Liberty Chakoroma and Moses Jackson, for varied reasons. Goddard is serving a suspension, while Chakoroma and Jackson are nursing injuries.
“It has been a taxing journey, but for us to stand a chance, we have to go out there and beat them (Caps). It is as simple as that,” Antipas said.
The team has been under the guidance of assistant coach Prince Matore during Antipas’ absence.
The Green Machine has been on a roll, going on a six-match unbeaten run, winning five of their matches against Hwange, Mushowani, Triangle, Harare City and Black Rhinos while they drew against Bulawayo Chiefs.
Caps coach Darlington Dodo will be hoping to win his maiden championship, while Antipas would be targeting to win it for the second time. The Gamecocks, lifted it in 2015.
Today: ZPC Kariba v Highlanders (Nyamhunga), Chicken Inn v Caps (Barbourfields), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Bulawayo Chiefs (Baobab), Dynamos v FC Platinum (Rufaro)