By Isaac Salima:
Zimbabwe’s Chicken Inn Sunday returned to their base with mission accomplished after being crowned champions of a three-day Energem International Bonanza played at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
Chicken Inn wrapped up their assignments in style after beating fellow visitors UD Songo from Mozambique 2-0 to finish top with nine points from three games.
Brett Amidu and Leroy Ndlhovu scored in either side of the game to complete a fruitful tournament in contrast to last year after they anchored the table with just a point from three games.
After downing Be Forward Wanderers in the opening game on Friday and Nyasa Big Bullets on Saturday, the Zimbabwe side were in a class of its own when they dominated possession in the entire game to underline that they were in the country for serious business.
The champion’s head coach Joey Antipas, who brought seven new players to a team that participated in the competition last year, said he was pleased with his team’s performance this year.
“Our players played well in all the games. Last year, we had problems in scoring but this year we scored in all the games, meaning that there was great improvement,” Antipas said.
His counterpart Nacir Armando, whose team finished third after managing a single win against Wanderers, said they have learnt a lot from the tournament.
“Our mission was not to win the competition but to use it to build a team and we are happy that this has been achieved,” Armando said.
The Blantyre derby between Bullets and Wanderers was back to its territory when it was the final game on the menu and provided an unusual seven-goal thriller with The People’s Team carrying the day by 4-3.
Despite the game offering nothing special as champions had already been identified, it was the usual pride at stake and both teams did not disappoint as the derby lived up to its billing.
The Lali Lubani side gave their supporters false hopes when they took the lead barely a minute into the game through Vincent Nyangulu’s header. Bullets replied two minutes later through Bright Munthali before exciting Mike Mkwate and Ernest Petro made it 3-1 by the time of recess.
In the final half, The People’s team continued winning the battle on the midfield and eventually exposing Wanderers’ awful defence. Hassan Kajoke put the game beyond the Nomads’ reach to make it 4-1.
However, Wanderers fought back and scored two goals in quick succession through Nyangulu and Peter Cholopi, but it was too late for them as they anchored the table without a point after losing all three games.
Bullets Coach, Kallisto Pasuwa, whose team finished second after winning two games, said he was satisfied with the performance of his side.
“We still have to work on fitness levels of our players before kickoff of [TNM] Super League. However, the games gave us an opportunity to learn a lot on how to approach an international game,” Pasuwa said.
Wanderers Coach, Bob Mpinganjira, said they did not dwell much on results.
“We have drawn so many lessons from the games and, as we go back to training, we will work on the shortfalls that we have noticed,” Mpinganjira said.
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