Chapungu’s flying start to the season slowed after they were shot down by a brilliant Chicken Inn side at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane yesterday.
The Airmen entered yesterday’s match with overflowing confidence. They have been brilliant since the start of the season, having won their last four matches on the bounce to climb to the top of the log.
Chicken Inn have had a bright start of their own to the season, but have not played well away from home. And the Joey Antipas-coached side are yet to string four wins in a row this season.
So everything appeared to be lining up for Rodwell Dhlakama’s side.
Chicken Inn though, had other ideas, producing a performance that cements their status as one of the favourites for the title.
A brace from the league’s top goal scorer Clive Augusto, including a disputed penalty, complemented by a goal by Obriel Chirinda, floored Chapungu.
The victory catapulted Chicken Inn to second on the log standings, with 18 points, one behind leaders Caps United, while Chapungu plummeted to fourth.
Dhlakama blamed fatigue, having played three games in a space of seven days.
“The game really turned against us when we conceded the penalty. From where I was standing I thought it was not a penalty, but the referee always has a better view of everything,” Dhlakama said.
“I would also say fatigue was the main challenge for us because we played three games in a short space of time. But we are not going to mourn forever; there is always another game for us to fight for.”
Antipas lauded his youthful squad for withstanding Chapungu’s physicality to come away with all the three points.
“We played a very physical team today and I would say well done to the boys for withstanding this physicality though we expected the referee to protect us. It was always going to be a very difficult task for us, but we collected all points, so now we look ahead to our next task. On the negative side, tough luck to Chapungu, they are a good side, but fatigue seemed to have affected them so much,” he said.
Evidently, fatigue proved the main difference between the two sides with the Chicken Inn’s industrious trio of Bret Amidu, Tichaona Chipunza and Sipho Ndlovhu overrunning the home side in midfield.
Augusto thrust Chicken Inn ahead on the 28th minute from the penalty spot which was awarded after Collen Kwaramba was adjudged to have impeded Ndlovhu in the box.
The former Ngezi Platinum forward inflicted more pain on Chapungu after the resumption of the second half. He brilliantly dribbled the ball past two defenders before slotting the ball past a diving Talbert
Shumba for his eighth goal of the season.
Second half substitute Chirinda put the game beyond doubt on 81st minute following a neat interchange of passes with Obidiah Tarumbwa.