By Ngqwele Dube
Bulawayo Chiefs inched closer towards securing their place in the Castle Lager Premiership when they dispatched Chicken Inn 1-0 at Luveve Stadium yesterday.
Chiefs secured maximum points through a 48th minute header off Gracious Mleya to ensure they move to 35 points.
Despite dominating proceedings, Chicken Inn lacked the final touch upfront and could not find the killer instinct.
Malvin Mkolo sent in a cross from the right flank and it found an unmarked Mleya who managed to beat Chicken Inn goalkeeper, Pride Zendera with a header.
Chiefs technical analyst, Thulani Sibanda said his side was buoyed by the victory as it came at a critical time and gave them hope they can escape the dreaded chop.
He said they will have to work hard going forward if they are to stay in the Premiership as it is going to be a tightly contested survival battle.
“We came knowing our greatest weakness was fitness as we had not trained for close to 10 to 11 days so we entered the match with caution and told ourselves we have to reserve our energy and sit back and catch them on the counter.
“The win gives us a lot of hope in the relegation matrix and with three teams fighting to escape that one slot we have to ensure we take whatever we can. Even a point will be crucial as the team that goes could be decided by goal difference,” said Sibanda.
Chiefs has been going through financial turmoil and players had embarked on industrial action in days leading up to the match and were not training demanding to be paid their outstanding dues.
Sibanda said team owner, Lovemore Sibanda managed to give “something” to the players, a move that aided in moving the players to chalk up victory.
Chicken Inn coach, Joey Antipas rued the two week break they had to endure saying they struggled to find their rhythm despite having a bigger chunk of the possession.
“I would like to say well done to Chiefs, I think they played well. On our side, we had a poor showing and I can safely say it’s our worst performance of the season.
“While we dominated possession we failed to find our rhythm and a larger chunk of the possession does not win you games,” he said.
Chicken Inn: P Zendera, P Bernard, X Ndlovu, G Majika (Tarumbwa 69 mins), M Jackson, S Munawa, O Chirinda (Nasama 46 mins), W Kamudyariwa, N Mutatiwa ( Nyandoro 63 mins), L Sithole, C Matawu
Bulawayo Chiefs: D Bizabani, S Nyahwa, M Majika, M Mkolo, L Matizirofa, T Muzuva, G Mleya, F Matare (Mhlanga 73 mins), K Chakanyuka (Ngala 54 mins), P Chikwende, M Takunda. Sunday News.