By Innocent Kurira in Bulawayo
Presented with another opportunity to go on top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League table, Chicken Inn fluffed as inconsistency manifested again when they were held by relegation-threatened Hwange at Luveve yesterday.
Maximum points would have seen the former champions shoot back to the top of the log, but their performance was nowhere near that of a championship chasing team.
The stalemate yesterday was their eighth in this campaign.
They have accumulated 53 points from 31 games and sit a point behind leaders CAPS United.
CAPS United could, however, increase the lead when they face Yadah at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
Joey Antipas, who doubles up as the national team and Chicken Inn coach, was on the bench for the Gamecocks a day after taking charge of the Warriors in their goalless draw with Botswana.
His side opened the scoring through a George Majika beauty in the 20th minute.
Majika’s effort was from the top drawer. The winger unleashed a powerful strike from 25 yards. It left Taimon Mvula, in goal for Hwange, clutching the air.
It was Hwange, however, who would enjoy a good spell after that goal.
The visitors, through veterans Felix Chindungwe and Gilbert Zulu, enjoyed the lion’s share of possession as the coal miners sought an equaliser.
They were rewarded in the 71st minute when Ernest Gwatima converted from the penalty spot to salvage a point for Chipangano.
That was after midfielder Admire Banda was hacked down by Moses Majika inside the box. Referee on the day, Thembinkosi Sibanda, pointed to the spot.
From that moment on, the visitors took control of the game as they played with vigour.
Chindungwe almost gave Hwange the lead by his curled effort from outside the box. However, the effort was well saved by Pride Zendera.
The Gamecocks had chances, but they were not clinical in front of goal. They were a blunt chisel that cut everything else except the intended target.
After the game, Antipas defended his charges.
“Tight game. It’s only that we didn’t play our usual game. That was due to the fact that the boys are jaded.
“The number of games we are having these days is hectic, it’s like living in pre-historic times. You know players are not horses, there is not much we can do about it, but all this is due to poor planning,” said Antipas.
“We did well in some phases of the game. But we have not lost hope, we just have to keep believing.”
Hwange goalkeepers coach Edmore Sibanda was pleased with the result.
“We played very well. lt’s only that we made a blunder when we started our game, but as the game went on, we picked from there and managed to equalise in the second half.
“It’s a fair result to us even though we drew. But we need to go back to the drawing board, and look at the upcoming match.
“Chicken Inn was sitting back and at half-time we told the boys to go at them and put pressure on their mistakes. We now only need two wins in order to survive relegation,” he said.
Chicken Inn: Pride Zendera, Phakamani Dube, Xolani Ndlovu, Moses Jackson, Guide Goddard, Tichaona Chipunza, George Majika, Joe Nyabinde (Simon Munawa, 69mins), Obriel Chirinda, Innocent Muchaneka ( Bret Amidu, 80mins), Malvin Gaki (Valentine Kadondzvo, 66mins)
Hwange: Taimon Mvula, Andrew Chuma, Nomore Chinyerere, Lukas Sibanda, Gerald Ndlovu, Felix Chindungwe, Admire Banda, Vassili Kawe (Kasimero Chimbadzwa, 71mins), Gilbert Zulu (Dumisani Maphosa, 58mins) , Shepard Gadzikwa, Ernest Gwatima. The Sunday Mail