HARARE – Former champions Chicken Inn sent Castle Lager Premiership returnees Bantu Rovers to the cleaners when the 2017 season commenced yesterday.
The Gamecocks, who won the title in 2015, scored five goals past a hapless Rovers side that will need to vastly improve if they are to retain their top flight status.
Chicken Inn opened the scoring in the 18th minute through Innocent Muchaneka, who fired from close range for the visitors at Luveve Stadium yesterday.
Veteran forward Obadiah Tarumbwa then added the second for the Gamecocks 28 minutes into the match.
Clement Matawu made a solo run on the right eliminating two defenders before sending in an inch-perfect pass for Tarumbwa.
The forward made no mistake from close range as he tapped the ball into the net to beat the exposed Rovers keeper Ndodana Sibanda.
In the second half, Chicken Inn continued from where they left off suffocating the youthful Bantu side.
But it would take a long time before the Gamecocks would find the back of the net though as they had to wait until the 87th minute.
Tanzania-bound Tafadzwa Kutinyu scored the third when he made a solo run into the home side’s box before firing a shot past Sibanda.
Substitute Ismael Lawe then scored two goals inside two minutes in added time as the Bantu defence completely capitulated.
Gamecocks coach Rahman Gumbo said: “I think we are on the right track. It is continuity for us from where we left last season. Bantu never threatened us they were pressing low. Our fitness levels were higher than theirs. It could have been a rugby score line had we took all our chances.”
After the massacre, Bantu Rovers interim coach Methembe Ndlovu said: “We did our best but it was not good enough. Our target is to keep improving, it’s always difficult when it’s your first game. We played the best we could but Chicken Inn were the better side.”
At the National Sports Stadium, another new side Yadah FC punched above their weight when they held highly-fancied Harare City to a goalless draw.
The Harare-based sides blew hot and cold throughout the entire match and none will feel hard by the point each took home.
But, the PSL debutants will feel proud of their efforts with their only blemish being their blunt strike force.
Yadah, who were making their maiden appearance in the top flight, matched their opponents pound for pound and with a bit of luck could have embarrassed the Sunshine Boys.
After yesterday’s draw, Yadah will look to build on their impressive premiership outing.
They have some battle-hardened players in skipper Brian Mapfumo, Wellington Kamudyariwa, Jimmy Dzingai, Moses Demera and goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, who showed that they can carry their fledgling teammates on their shoulders.
However, City will feel they still have a lot do if they hope to clinch their first league title.
Even their coach Mike Madzivanyika admitted that his side still has a lot of gray areas they still need to work on.
“We played a good game. I thought we gave it our all and this is our first game of the season. We have a lot of areas that we need to address especially finishing,” Madzivanyika said.
Both sides from the first whistle played some high-octane football as they all looked to grab the first advantage.
City never looked entirely convincing and in the opening half hour as they were distinctly unpromising as they did little to trouble Dube in goals for Yadah.
In a rare spell of possession, the Sunshine Boys looked to surge ahead in the 23rd minute when defender Brian Chikwenya beat his goalkeeper Dube in an attempt to head away Pritchard Mpelele’s floating cross.
Moments later speedy winger Martin Vengesai sent his attempt wide at goal from inside the area after being setup by new signing Tinashe Balakasi.
Madzivanyika named four of his side’s new signings in the starting XI — Malvin Gaki signed from Triangle, forward Balakasi who arrived from Mushowani Stars while Protasho Kabwe and former Hwange defender Mpelele — all gave decent performances.
However, it was Yadah FC who looked more comfortable on the ball more than their experienced opponents.
They settled first and made some neat build ups which nearly produced a goal but forward Morris Musiyakuvi missed a sitter from close range in the 20th minute.
Yadah winger Leeroy Mavunga took the occasion to announce himself to top flight football with a highly impressive outing and always looked to be a menace each time he was in possession wide on the left.
After a frenetic start to the opening half, it later drew into a large drab with play being concentrated in the middle of the park without any goalmouth action.
Jairos Tapera’s side did almost everything right except to find the sucker punch in the final third.
And both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils leaving Tapera a satisfied man.
“I am happy with the boys, they played very well especially considering that we played an experienced side like Harare City,” he said.
“We created a number of good chances which obviously is a good sign. So we are going to make sure we take this performance and improve going forward. I think we are in the right direction.”
Bantu Rovers 0-5 Chicken Inn, Harare City 0-0 Yadah FC, Ngezi Platinum 1-0 Black Rhinos, ZPC Kariba 1-0 How Mine, Tsholotsho 0-0 Hwange, Chapungu 0-0 Triangle
Dynamos v FC Platinum (NSS), Shabanie Mine v CAPS United (Maglas), Highlanders v Bulawayo City (Barbourfields),