Cup Kings CAPS flop

HARARE - CAPS United’s off-field problems came to the surface yesterday when Makepekepe players refused to leave their team bus in protest over outstanding dues before going on to lose to Tsholotsho on penalties in the Chibuku Super Cup first round.

The protest by the players caused kick-off to delay by over 36 minutes and when the match finally commenced, United were caught cold by the visitors.

Forward Bruno Madanhire opened the scoring for the visitors after 19 minutes when he turned in Trust Nyabinde’s cross at the far post.

After toiling for much of the first half since they had not warmed up before kick-off, Makepekepe finally equalised 15 minutes before full time.

Full back Ronald Pfumbidzai beat the visitors’ goalkeeper Nickel Marichi with a close range finish after Phineas Bamusi headed back across the goal, a cross from Amon Kambanje.

The match then went straight to penalties after the final whistle where Marichi starred for Tsholotsho.

Marichi did well to dive to his right to save the first spot kick taken by Makepekepe fullback Hardlife Zvirekwi.

Pfumbidzai, Joel Ngodzo, Devon Chafa and Dennis Dauda went on to score United’s remaining four spot kicks but it was already too late to salvage a win.

Tsholotsho were clinical from 12 yards out as Nichols Mundandishe, Mostafa Ponyera, Madanhire, Nyabinde and McClive Phiri all beat replacement Makepekepe keeper Jorum Muchambo.

The visitors’ coach Lizwe Sweswe was pleased with his team’s display throughout the 90 minutes and refused to allow United’s problems to take the gloss off their victory.

“We all have problems. If I tell you my problems with this team you will be surprised how we managed to come here today and play this game,” Sweswe said.

“All teams in the league have problems. If they (CAPS) had problems they should not have come here and play. This shows they were prepared to play.”

Sweswe added: “After having played against them two times in the league; tactically, we came prepared because I knew they are good. They are the same team we have played before and the difference today was that we came with a plan and it worked.”

Tsholotsho are in danger of getting relegated in the league as they sit one place off bottom place with 19 points with only seven games before the season ends.

Sweswe believes they can avoid the drop and continue with their fairytale run in the Chibuku Super Cup. 

“I think this team is young and psychologically they are now strong. We are going to push until the end of the season. We hope to reach the final and probably win it,” he said.

Makepekepe assistant coach Mark Mathe refused to comment on the player’s actions before the match and chose to speak only of the on field proceedings.

“We were slow off the blocks and we conceded a goal against the run of play but I think in the second half we made a few tactical changes and we got back into the game, hence we scored the equaliser,” Mathe said.

“With a bit of composure in the final third we could have won the match after we had equalised but again Tsholotsho defended well.

“They sat deep intending to attack on the break. Their strategy was to defend deep and go to the lottery. They played a very frustrating game and in most spells they were wasting a lot of time.”

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