Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CHICKEN Inn coach Joey Antipas is itching for maximum points on their away trip to ZPC Kariba to set the tone for a gruelling second half to Castle Lager Premiership season which begins today.
The marathon might take an interesting twist this afternoon if the Gamecocks and Black Rhinos take full advantage of the absence of log leaders FC Platinum, who are away on Champions League business.
In-form Black Rhinos have a tricky date giants Highlanders at Barbourfields.
The match kicks off at 1pm because the stadium will later be used for training by visiting Burundian side Rukinzo who play Triangle in a CAF Confederation Cup match at the venue tomorrow.
Antipas and Hebert Maruwa, the Rhinos coach, are aiming to take control of the marathon ahead of the more demanding games in the final stretch.
“The second half of the season is usually fierce competition because of issues to do with the championship and relegation,” said Antipas.
“It is even going to be worse this year because there are no clear favourites for the championship. So we are taking it game by game.
“We are mindful that we have to stay in the mix at the top so that we can stand a good chance to fight for honours,” said Antipas.
The Gamecocks are in second place on the log standings, equal on 30 points with the third-placed Rhinos.
FC Platinum are two points clear at the top.
However, Antipas’ men dropped points during midweek when they were held to a goalless draw by TelOne.
They have been struggling for consistency, of late, and today they will be without some of their most trusted lieutenants like the injured Clemence Matawu and Brett Amidu who has been suspended after picking up three yellow cards.
“This is a big game but it can be done. We just have to re-energise and believe in ourselves. There is really nothing we can do about the previous games.
“We have been telling our players that when you fall down you have to pick up yourself, dust up and fight on.
‘’That’s exactly what we are doing and our focus is on maximum points in our next game and we know we have to put up a big fight against ZPC Kariba,” said Antipas.
Rhinos have been on a purple patch and the back-to-back wins over FC Platinum and Manica Diamonds have boosted their confidence ahead of the Bosso clash.
Highlanders are a distant 11th on the log standings with 20 points and their 1-0 win over Chapungu during the midweek has reignited the enthusiasm in their camp.
Giants CAPS United are also hoping to close in on the top teams when they travel to Vengere tomorrow for a date against struggling Manica Diamonds.
Today: Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields, 1pm; Bulawayo Chiefs v Chapungu (Luveve); Yadah v Hwange (Rufaro); ZPC Kariba v Chicken Inn (Nyamhunga); Tel One v Herentals (Ascot)
Tomorrow: Dynamos v Mushowani Stars (Rufaro);Manica Diamonds v CAPS United (Vengere) — postponed
Wednesday: FC Platinum v Harare City (Mandava); Ngezi Platinum Stars v Triangle United (Baobab)