HARARE - CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe is pleased with his squad’s progress thus far in pre-season and believes their recent tour of Mozambique gave them a good platform to challenge for honours.
The Green Machine returned home yesterday from a 10-day tour of Mozambique where they participated in an invitational tournament as well as playing other local teams in a bid to fine-tune the squad ahead of the 2016 Castle Premiership season.
In four matches Makepekepe won three and drew one leaving Chitembwe satisfied with the squad he has assembled.
“The target has always been there and it is to win games and we will make sure we will win matches. One thing I can say is that we will be happy at the end of the season,” said Chitembwe.
“There is good vibe within the group we have with us. The tour has gave the players an opportunity to come in and do well and they have certainly done that so far.”
Club president Farai Jere has made his intentions of restoring the glory days at the Green Machine clear by availing funds for Chitembwe to assemble a strong and competitive squad.
United, who have not won the league title since 2005, have beefed up their squad by signing winger Tafadzwa Rusike, who returned from a brief stint in Angola, Archieford Gutu, who was released by Swedish side Kalmar FF, and Devon Chafa from How Mine.
Makepekepe have also snapped up goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda from Gunners, 2014 Soccer Star of the Year Dennis Dauda (ZPC Kariba), full back Gilbert Mapemba, who was unattached after leaving South African club Moroka Swallows in 2014.
The club has also snapped up former Zimbabwe youth international Abbas Amidu, who had been playing for Masafi Club in the United Arab Emirates First Division for the past year.
With many new faces joining the squad, Chitembwe was pleased with the tour which acted as a team bonding exercise.
“For me, the most important thing was an opportunity to have these boys, getting to know each other well and I am happy the tour served the purpose,” he said.
“The whole idea was to give each and every player an opportunity to show what they are capable of doing and I was very impressed with what I saw. We won some of the matches but that was not our main thrust.
“I think we have an exciting group of players who are hungry for success. I am very happy with the progress.
I can safely say we are ready for the new season. The good thing is that we still have about a month to polish up.
“There are positive things and others areas to work on, like at the start of every season. We are still trying to prepare ourselves as best we can through training sessions and matches and, beyond results; I think we have to be positive.”
Last season, Makepekepe finished in fifth place some 15 points behind eventual champions Chicken Inn.
The club had started the season brightly under Briton coach Mark Harrison but financial problems under former president Twine Phiri hampered their progress.
Harrison dumped Makepekepe shortly before the halfway mark of the season to join Township Rollers in the Botswana BeMobile League and was replaced by his assistant Mark Mathe on interim basis.
Shortly after Jere increased his shareholding at the capital’s second biggest club and normalcy finally returned at Makepekepe.
Chitembwe, who made his name at the club, returned to the club as coach for a second stint in September last year — will have another chance to have a closer look at his squad on Sunday, when the Green Machine clash with Harare City in the quarter-final of the ZNA Charities Soccer Shield at Rufaro Stadium.