Fungai Muderere
FOLLOWING Chicken Inn’s winless tour of Zambia, Mamelodi Sundowns will not read much into the development as they once embarked on the same tour only to bounce back and finish second to Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa’s Absa Premiership in the 2014/ 2015 season.

The Gamecocks’ rearguard was found wanting in the four-team tournament as it leaked seven times in three matches, a statistic that is reportedly worrying the Innscor-sponsored outfit’s technical team.

The Joey Antipas mentored side played a 2-2 draw against Zanaco and lost 1-3 to Tanzanian giants Azam. On Wednesday they fell 0-2 at the hands of Zambian champions Zesco.

“I admit, Mamelodi Sundowns is currently in hot form. Another plus to us is that we have talented Zimbabwean players in our team that include Khama (Billiat) and Cuthbert (Malajila) which I think will help us a lot. But Chicken Inn were in a cup final (NetOne Easycall Cup) not so long ago which means there are a quality side.  Consequently, we are not reading with regards to their winless tour in Zambia. Last year, we embarked on a similar tour to Zambia.

We did well because we came back to South Africa for the season that earned us the ticket to represent South Africa in the Caf Champions League this year. What matters most is the desire to win when it matters most,” said Sundowns media and communications manager Thulani Thuswa.

Sundowns will meet Chicken Inn at a time when it is faced with congested fixtures in the South African domestic league. However, because they have the best technology and backroom staff that money can buy in South Africa, they are not fazed by the possibility of fatigue.

“We boast of a very good training team. We have an esteemed physical trainer who has been emphasising a lot on body recovery. No wonder, we are on top of the log,” he added.

Another secret weapon Sundowns are banking on is former Chicken Inn striker Kuda Mahachi,  who was interestingly signed by Sundowns from Chicken Inn only to be loaned to Golden Arrows in less than a season.

“I won’t say much of our secrets but we are in constant communication with players such as Kuda Mahachi who once played for Chicken Inn. He has been giving us ideas on what to expect. We have also been watching Chicken Inn’s match videos. We also watched their cup final against Highlanders on television. We noted their tactics and who their danger men are,” he said.

The two clubs clash on the weekend of 12 February deep in the bowels of Babourfields Stadium in Bulawayo following Caf condemnation of Luveve Stadium which happens to be Chicken Inn’s favourite hunting ground.
Sundowns who have been here before have no worries about the climatic conditions.

“We will arrive a day before the match. We are not worried about issues to do with acclimatisation because Zimbabwe is just like South Africa and we have been there before,” said Thuswa.

The second leg will be played two weeks later.

Should Chicken Inn  emerge victorious, they face a tough trip to 2012 Caf Confederation Cup winners, AC Leopards of Congo, and a win in that tie will see them up against 1973 CCL winners and 2014 runners-up, AS Vita, from the DRC.

However, AS Vita will only remain possible opponents if they manage to overcome Mafunzo from Zanzibar in their preliminary round clash.

Sundowns, who reached the CCL final in 2001 but were beaten by Egyptian giants, Al Ahly, fell in the first round of last season’s competition after being beaten by TP Mazembe 3-2 on aggregate.