By Innocent Kurira
Chicken Inn FC cleared a major hurdle in their quest to win their second Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title, with a 2-0 victory over visiting Ngezi Platinum Stars at Luveve Stadium yesterday.
A second half brace by Obriel Chirinda ended the GameCocks’ four-game winless streak to keep their title dream alive.
The game was not short of drama as the visitors’ coach, Erol Akbay, was red-carded in the 88th minute for throwing a water bottle at first assistant referee, Sanelisiwe Sibanda.
Akbay was incensed by Sibanda’s failure to rule pacey striker Chirinda offside in the build up to the hosts’ second goal.
Chirinda broke loose a few metres from the centre line and raced to seal his brace in the 87th minute. As Chirinda celebrated his moment of brilliance at the corner flag, Akbay took matters into his own hands on the touchline and threw a water bottle in Sibanda’s direction.
Referee, Allan Bhasvi, gave the Dutchman his marching orders and he is the first coach in the PSL to fall foul of the new football rules that now empower match officials to give cards to the head coach for any dissent from the technical bench.
Chirinda had shot the hosts into the lead in the 47th minute. The striker fired home from close range after a neat interchange of passes with Bret Amidu.
An apologetic Akbay said in the post match interview: “The second goal is two or three metres offside and she is not flagging. The water bottle flew out of my hand, I did not intend to throw the bottle. It was an accident from my side. I cannot complain about my red card because it was the right call.”
Akbay’s sending off comes two weeks after two of his players were red-carded in their match against Triangle FC.
Away from the incident, Chicken Inn’s performance was far from impressive. Little separated the sides in the opening period that saw few chances.
The visitors threatened as early as the fourth minute, with Mandlenkosi Mlilo’s rising shot from the edge of the box sailing inches over the bar. Chicken Inn were jittery at the back as Moses Jackson and Passmore Bernard made mistakes which, fortunately, visitors failed to capitalise on.
The hosts’ real chance in the first half fell to attacking midfielder, Innocent Muchaneka, who, however, chose to be selfish instead of feeding an unmarked Chirinda on the edge of the box. His weak shot at goal was easily dealt with by Tatenda Munditi in goal for the visitors.
Chicken coach, Joey Antipas, was a relieved man at the end of the 90 minutes.
“This is a welcome result as we try to stay in the title race. In the first half we had lots of possession but we failed to take advantage. We struggled to penetrate their defence. Our decision making in the first half was poor but we improved in the second half,” said Antipas.
Chicken Inn: Pride Zendera, Guide Goddard, Xolani Ndlovu (Liberty Chakaroma 65th min), Tichaona Chipunza, Simon Munawa, Innocent Muchaneka (Sipho Ndlovu 45th min), Tapiwanashe Kadonzvo, Obriel Chirinda, Passmore Bernard, Bret Amidu (Malvin Gaki 84th min)
Ngezi Platinum: Tatenda Munditi, Bruno Mtigo, Mandlenkosi Mlilo, Polite Moyo, Gerald Takwara (Qadr Amini 40th min), Keith Murera (Tichaona Mabvura 70th min), Wayne Makuva, Michelle Katsvairo (Everson Fembera 78th min), Malon Mushonga, Frank Makarati, Barnabus Mushunje. The Chronicle