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SOON after the late goal-scoring king Adam Ndlovu was appointed as Chicken Inn’s head coach in 2011, he called me and claimed he would build a side that would win the league championship title within five years.I believed him.

Why wouldn’t I?

This was the same man who had also told me back in 1992 that he would clinch the national top goal-scorers’ award at the end of that season.

And he did it — hitting the back of the net 32 times in the famous black-and-white strip of his beloved Highlanders.

Pity, “Adamski” didn’t live long enough to see his dream with the Gamecocks slowly bearing fruit.

After watching Joey “Mafero” Antipas, continuing the side’s project with modesty since he took over as the Bulawayo-based side’s mentor last season, a lot of neutrals are beginning to tip Chicken Inn as a g contender for league title honours.

They shocked defending champions Dynamos 3-0 at Rufaro on Sunday in a Castle Lager Premiership tie.

Antipas’ men owed their win to the heroics of young ‘keeper, Elvis Chipezeze, who played a blinder — especially in the opening half — as he erected a tower of invincibility in front of the marauding Dynamos’ attacks.

The 24-year-old shot-stopper was signed by Ndlovu while playing for Southern Region Lower Division side, Zim Alloys in 2012, and patiently waited in the wings as he watched the likes of Njabulo Nyoni and Liberty Chirava get the nod ahead of him.

Then, last season, “Mafero” gave Chipezeze his opportunity and the agile goal-minder has never looked back.

Although the ‘keeper was the leading actor in Antipas’ travelling cast, teamwork, once again, won the day for the Gamecocks.

After they had weathered the barrage of bombardment by Dynamos for over 40 minutes, Lady Luck smiled upon them when, against the run of play, former FC Platinum forward, Mitchell Katsvairo’s glancing header from a corner kick, beat Dynamos ‘keeper, Artwell Mukandi, on the stroke of half-time. Shortly after play resumed, a gem of a goal arrived from the visitors’ leading goalscorer, Edmore Chirambadare, and Chicken Inn literally closed shop.

They illustrated to everyone watching what total teamwork is all about and it was a common sight to see all their 10 infield players behind the ball for almost the entire second half as De Mbare swarmed upfield to try and get back into the game but to no avail! The die was cast towards the closing stages when Chirambadare returned to haunt the Glamour Boys from the penalty spot to make it 3-0.

Can Chicken Inn win the league title at the end of the season?

“Mafero” — still a publicity-shy and unassuming character from his playing days with Arcadia United and the Warriors — refuses to be drawn into that debate, insisting that “what we are doing is working game by game . . .”

Well so far, that strategy has worked, hasn’t it? The Gamecocks have now overcome three of the top flight’s pre-season favourites — including FC Platinum and How Mine — and are on the verge of repeating that feat against high-flying Triangle United at Luveve on Wednesday.

The five man midfield that sucked the life out of DeMbare’s insurgency — led by veteran talisman Clement “Naughty Flea” Matawu — has been the “breast-wing-drumstick” heartbeat of Antipas’ strategy since the start of the season.

Add a solid defence that has conceded only four goals in seven matches behind that hard-fibre midfield, then you begin to see the metamorphic process of the side’s ambition. And, of course, Chipezeze has slowly stood up to be counted as one of the finest ‘keepers on show in the land today.

Then the blistering pace and prowess of Chirambadare is topping the “broiler delicacy” with the much-needed flavoured finish. The chances of Chicken Inn hitting that finish tape first before the likes of Triangle United, Dynamos, How Mine, Harare City, CAPS United, ZPC Kariba and Highlanders is looking more and more a reality. Can “Adamski’s” dream be realised at the end of the season?

It’s still early days yet but one thing I’m sure of is that the wide and infectious smile that always personified his character was glowing down in admiration at his beloved project from up above as the mesmeric events unfolded at Rufaro on Sunday.

Source : The Herald