By Innocent Kurira
CAPS United failed to stomach defeat at the hands of title rivals Chicken Inn and resorted to violence in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Caps United fans, the club’s security team and players all displayed the ugly side of the beautiful game in what had otherwise been an entertaining duel until all hell broke loose in the 73rd minute.
Referee Happy Mabhena awarded the hosts a penalty in the 73rd minute after livewire Obriel Chirinda was felled by the visitors’ goalie Tonderai Mateyaunga inside the box.
Unhappy with the decision, the Caps United fans housed at the Mpilo end of the stadium rained missiles onto the field of play in protest.
Just like their fans, the Caps United players also lost their cool and walked off the pitch to their dugout after their aggressive confrontation of Mabhena proved fruitless.
They staged a six-minute protest, while Ronald Chitiyo continued to confront the referee.
After all the heated drama, defender Passmore Bernard kept his cool and sent the keeper the wrong way to thrust the Gamecocks into the lead.
Caps United pushed for an equaliser, but one could tell from their body language that they had lost their composure, as they resorted to long balls.
Soon after Mabhena blew the final whistle, Caps United substitute Blessing Sarupinda manhandled the referee. Some of his teammates tried to restrain him and suddenly it was a free for all, as more Caps United players menacingly charged at Mabhena.
Big striker Dominic Chungwa peeled off his shirt and attacked Mabhena before being stopped by Chicken Inn bouncers and police details.
But the “war’ wasn’t over as Caps United players and security team led by the trio of John Zhuwawu, Chungwa and Chitiyo were involved in a brawl with PSL bouncers, baying for Mabhena’s blood.
The shameful situation only calmed after more police details were deployed at the dressing room area.
Away from the drama, Chicken Inn were the better side on the day. Chirinda outran the Caps United defence on three occasions, but his decision making was horrible.
The visitors’ first real chance came in the 15th minute when Hardlife Zvirekwi broke on the left side and sent in a low cross, which was met by Chitiyo inside the box. The midfielder controlled the ball with ease and shot at goal, but his effort was blocked by a sliding Moses Jackson.
The Gamecocks had a penalty appeal turned down in the 23rd minute after Simon Munawa was hacked down inside the box by Dominic Mukandi, but Mabhena was unmoved.
On the stroke of half-time Innocent Muchaneka found himself free inside the box only to sky his effort from six yards.
In the second-half, the visitors fortified their midfield by bringing on a more defensive player in the form of Sarupinda. The move paid off as the Gamecocks midfield dominance waned.
The victory ended the Gamecocks’ three-game winless streak and brought them back into the title race.
They now trail Caps United by four points with seven games to go.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas was happy to collect maximum points against their rivals.
“It was good to collect all three points. Of course, it’s just 1-0, but it gets us back into the title race.
“We should have buried Caps United in the first-half, but we wasted a number of chances,” said Antipas.
His opposite number Darlington Dodo did not make it to the post-match interview following the dressing room brawl. The Caps United bus had to be escorted by police out of the stadium.
Chicken Inn: Donovan Bernard, Passmore Bernard, Ben Nyahunzwi, Xolani Ndlovu (Phakamani Dube 49th min) Simon Munawa, Moses Jackson, Tichaona Chipunza, Tapiwanashe Kandonzvo, George Majika (Sipho Ndlovu 82nd min), Obriel Chirinda, Innocent Muchaneka (Bret Amidu 45th min)
Caps United: Hardlife Zvirekwi, Goodwin Gorayati, Lincolin Zvasiya, Carlos Rusere, Dominic Mukandi, Joel Ngodzo (John Zhuwawo 70th min), Phenias Bamusi (Blessing Sarupinda 45th min), Kelvin Ndebele (Newman Sianchali 83rd min), Ronald Chitiyo, Dominic Chungwa. The Herald