Zimbabwean football clubs met with mixed fortunes in their Pan African journey over the weekend, as on Saturday, some mourned Chicken Inn’s elimination from the CAF Champions League, only to celebrate a day later, following Harare City’s progression to the first round proper of the CAF Confederation Cup.
For Chicken Inn, it was a cruel and haunting way to end its bold Africa campaign after conceding an injury time penalty to lose the match 2-0 to South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, and bow out of the tournament 2-1 on aggregate.
The Gamecocks players felt cheated as they believed the penalty, which came after Passmore Benard had impeded Khama Billiart in the box, was not justified--a feeling which they share with their coach Joey Antipas.
“I though the penalty was dodgy but it happens in football. I wish Sundowns all the best in the Champions League,” said Antipas.
The Zimbabweans confronted Malagasy referee Andofetra Avombitara Rakotojaona soon after the penalty was awarded, but that helped nothing as the referee stood his ground before Katlego Mashego converted to give Sundowns the passage to the next round.
Chicken Inn had matched the so called Brazilians man for man, and could
also have won the game had Michelle Katsvairo’s effort not cannoned off
the post, before Obediah Tarumbwa missed his target with the goalkeeper.
Antipas praised his charges for a good show that saw them win a lot of
admirers among the thousands of fans who braved the weather to watch
the evening game.
“I give the boys 100% for the effort they put in for us to try and get the result,” said Antipas. “It was a massive performance and all in all I would say great performance from my boys.”
Even Sundowns coach Pisto Mosimane had high praise for the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions, admitting that the Zimbabweans gave his team a tough time.
“Credit to this team,” remarked Motsimane. “These are not fishermen from an island but a good team. What a tough game.”
However, there was consolation for Zimbabwe after Harare City cruised
through to the first round of the Caf Confederation Cup with an impressive 3-1 away win over AS Adema of Madagascar.
The win sees the Harare City fathers qualify for the first round proper 6-3 on aggregate having won the first leg 3-1 in Harare.
Harare City will now meet Zesco of Zambia.
Upon their return, Harare City will this weekend play Caps United in the quarter finals of the Zimbabwe National Army Charity Challenge.
In the same vein, visiting ZPC Kariba are through to the semi-finals of the ZNA tournament after a 1-0 win over Dynamos at Rufaro Stadium, in Harare.
A 43rd minute goal from Wisdom Mutasa, the son of Dynamos assistant coach Lloyd Mutasa, settled the affairs in favor of ZPC Kariba.
However, their coach Sunday Chidzambwa is not excited by the win, saying the Zimbabwe National Army Charity Challenge is like a friendly match.
“This is a practice game. There is nothing much to talk about it,” said Chidzambwa. “The season is starting in August and we have the whole month to prepare.”
The other Zimbabwe National Army Charity Challenge quarter final matches will be played this coming weekend. Chicken Inn will meet Bulawayo rivals Highlanders.