PSL preview No11: CAPS' renewed optimism

HARARE - Eight years of failure to win the title and constant decline have had their toll on CAPS United.

A club known as the Cup Kings because of the trophy cabinet laden with honours, Makepekepe are no longer the feared side they once were at the turn of the new millennium when they swept everything before them.

Under former coach Charles Mhlauri, CAPS dominated the Zimbabwean top-flight league on their way to winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.

Since then, the club has been living in the shadows of their more illustrious city neighbours, Dynamos.

Since 2005, Dynamos have gone on to win to win four domestic titles including a hat-trick in the last three years.

CAPS have had to watch from the distance as even lesser followed clubs from the capital such as Gunners, Monomotapa and Motor Action have all enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame.

Last season, United at one point were just six points behind eventual log leaders Dynamos before going on to finish the campaign in fifth place.

That stability towards the end of the season has given coach Taurai Mangwiro renewed optimism that the Green Machine can win the title this year.

“As a coach there is every reason to be confident. I believe we have assembled a strong team capable of competing at the highest level,” Mangwiro told the Daily News this week.

“Of course we lost some players but we also managed to retain the ones whom we felt are more important in order to achieve our targets. We have also acquired a number of good players and they appear to be doing well.

“We have been very active during the off season, in which we did fairly well with our major highlight being our trip to Malawi (for a pre-season tour) where we won that cup.

“We have also played a lot of games against Premiership and first division clubs. With the squad that we have assembled our target is to improve from last year. We would want to win trophies this season.”

United lost defender George Magariro – who joined How Mine following the expiry of his contract – while midfielders Tawanda Munyanduri, David Redhiyoni and striker Tawanda Nyamandwe signed for newly promoted ZPC Kariba, who CAPS coincidentally play in their opening game of the season this weekend.

Benson Maglasi and Arnold Chivheya jumped ship and will be playing for Harare City this season while Rahman Kutsanzira returned to Bulawayo to his former club Highlanders.

Winger Gift Phiri, who struggled for game time last season, decided to try his luck at newly promoted Air force side Chapungu.

These are all experienced players who have served the club well in recent years and replacing them will certainly take some time.

To their credit, CAPS were able to retain the trio of goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, defender Hardlife Zvirekwi and striker Leonard Fiyado, who were coveted by a number of Premiership clubs during the offseason.

The club are likely have to fend of interest for Zvirekwi from South Africa teams in June owing to his showing at this year’s African Nations Championship (Chan) finals with Zimbabwe.

The utility player will be integral to United’s progress this season and the longer they can keep him will probably determine whether they can end this title drought.

Mangwiro has brought in Malawian forward striker Ismael Thindwa to bridge the gap left by Nyamandwe’s departure.

Thindwa is a two-time winner of the Malawian Premiership Golden Boot with his previous club Epac FC.

Going forward, CAPS were not bad last season as they scored 42 goals in their 30 leagues games and with a striker of Thindwa’s quality paired with Dominic Chungwa, expect more goals to come.

Makepekepe’s title aspirations were hampered by their weak defence which conceded 34 goals last season.

In sport, good attackers win you games but a good defence wins you championships.

Last season, the preferred centre-back pairing was that of Magariro and Chivheya when the season started while Ronald Pfumbidzayi and Tapuwa Kumbuyani operated on the flanks.

As the season progressed, Steven Makatuka began to get more game time ahead of Magariro while Munyanduri was shuttled between central defence and holding midfield.

There was no stability at the back for CAPS especially in central defence and this was their Achilles heel.

To mount a serious title challenge, Mangwiro needs to come up with a solid and regular central defensive pairing.

Other news players who have arrived this season include Pervington Zimunya, Asani Nhongo, Tongai Mangwendere and David Chipala.

Away from the field of play, CAPS United have far more unresolved problems concerning their revenue generation.

The bottom line is that the club sorely needs a shot in the arm since club president Twine Phiri parted ways with wealthy co-director Farai Jere in 2012.

Everybody knows it; everybody says it. The issue has become all-consuming, and last season it even undermined CAPS’ performances on the pitch as players went for months without salaries and winning bonuses.

A player mutiny also rocked their camp before the start of the 2013 season which saw seven senior players being shown the exit door.

The dust soon settled after that incident but in September another embarrassing episode for Phiri occurred when a number of players stormed Jere’s office’s and begged the Harare businessman to return to the club.

Towards the end of last season, Phiri moved in to restructure the club by appointing a new six-member board led comprising of Lewis Uriri, Alex Munyaka, Nhamo Tutisani, Mordecai Sachikonye, Khumbulani Mhlope and Munyaradzi Mazhande.

The sextet has been tasked with turning around the Green Machine’s fortunes by sourcing funding to ensure that Mangwiro has a competitive and a well looked after squad.

It is too early to judge whether this new board has had a positive impact to the club and only time will tell.

Last season’s position: 5

Daily News predicted 2014 position: 4

Comments (5)

Zvinondishamisa chaizvo kuti Twine Phiri anotsvaga sponsorship ye league achitadza ye team yake. Hakuzi kuzungaira here ikoku?

Sir Jephy - 3 April 2014

Gore rino ndezvedu isu MAKEPEKEPE.

chacks - 3 April 2014

Hop this is our year guys to win the championship. Kepe kepe woye nothing is impossible

mhofu mutenhesanwa - 3 April 2014

We wish our team all the best in its endevours........we are rallying behind you Mangwiro just take every game seriously....we gonna make it

ngara wamambo - 4 April 2014

hokoyo dembare nekepe kepe

maguranye - 5 April 2014

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