Shutto backs CAPS United

HARARE - It is always tough to get people believing, but perhaps what unites the CAPS United family today are the prospects of their team’s first championship in over a decade.

The Green Machine last went up the podium for the league title in 2005, having won the title in 1979, 1996 and 2004.

There is no denying the fact that Makepekepe have the greatest chance to grab the title this season.

Only two clubs, which play each other in a league encounter at Mandava Stadium, in Zvishavane today — FC Platinum and Highlanders — stand in their way.

If United, who date in-form and Chibuku Super Cup holders Ngezi Platinum Stars this afternoon, collect maximum points at the National Sports Stadium and Bosso beat or draw with the platinum miners — who trail Makepekepe by two points — then the Lloyd Chitembwe-coached side will lift the title with one more game to play — a tricky assignment against Air Force of Zimbabwe side Chapungu at Ascot Stadium in Gweru.

Chitembwe was part of the trailblazing Makepekepe side that won the title in 2005.

There is definitely no better time to explore the exploits of some of CAPS United’s best pair of limbs than now when they are on the brink of winning the championship.

Shacky “Mr Goals” Tauro (late), Joel “Jubilee” Shambo (late), Brenna Msiska are some of the greats to have donned the green and white jersey — the home kit for the Harare-based side.

Stewart Murisa, or simply Shutto, is a name that any Zimbabwean soccer follower will most likely connect with easily, as he is one among a rare breed of footballers and probably the only one who played for the country’s top three clubs — CAPS Utd, Dynamos and Highlanders, with equally significant impact.

While it was not easy to play for Makepekepe — then affectionately known as the Cup Kings following their exploits in Cup competitions — Shutto almost became what the doctor had ordered for the team then.

Having grown up on the dusty streets of St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, he later formed a formidable and lethal striking partnership with Alois “Kriss-Kross” Bunjira, Farai Mbidzo and Morgan Nkathazo at Makepekepe.

Born on July 18, 1974 in Seke, Chitungwiza, the soft-spoken Shutto — whose right foot was as potent as his left and was equally effective in the air — says he always felt at home playing alongside boyhood friend Bunjira.

“Alois is more than a young brother to me. He would know where I was on the football pitch at any given time and likewise I would know his position. This probably is why we were such an exciting and lethal duo at Makepekepe.”

“With Alois, we gelled easily. We had played together for a very long time, alongside former Dynamos and national team goalkeeper Gift ‘Umbro’ Muzadzi, well before we went to school.

“We enjoyed an unusual telepathy that left defensive combinations in sixes and sevens. With Chitembwe, Bunjira, Felix Antonio (late), Blessing ‘Yogo Yogo’ Makunike (late), Nkathazo, Simon Dambaza, Mbidzo and later Joseph Takaringofa among others, we could face any team in the topflight,” says Shutto with a nostalgic expression taking the better of him.

“We had a very mean defence and an enterprising midfield comprising Silver ‘Bhonzo’ Chigwenje, Stephen ‘Cobra’ Chikodzi, Frank ‘The Dealer’ Nyamukuta, Joe ‘Kode’ Mugabe, Mpumelelo Dzowa among others.”

Muzadzi says of Shutto: “Stewart’s combination with Alois started before they played for these big clubs. I believe he was one of the best strikers of our generation of footballers. This was so because Stewart had a rare confidence as a striker.

“He could dribble, shoot as well as set up colleagues. Shutto could take on any defender and thrived on competition.

“The current league has no such striker. Remember he played during the same time as the late Adam Ndlovu and his brother Peter, Ian Gorowa, Nkathazo, Tauya Murehwa, Zenzo Moyo among others but still managed to make his mark. If he had been playing today, something great would obviously emerge.”

The 1996 Soccer Star of the Year attended Zengeza 7 and Shingai primary schools, Zengeza 2 High School before proceeding to Prince Edward for “A” Level.

Admittedly Shutto — an all-round player who started off as a goalkeeper then midfielder before Wieslaw Grabowski turned him into a lethal striker — is one player who served many clubs at home and abroad and this he confirms as he tells of his playing career that spanned over 15 years.

“I played for Darryn Textiles from 1990-91 before trying my luck in Poland. I did not last long in Poland because of the racism there.

“On my return from Poland, I joined Blackpool “Ndochi” in 1995 before joining Makepekepe in 1996, the same year that I was crowned the top flight’s Soccer Star of the Year. I went to Amazulu in South Africa in 1997, Ajax Cape Town (1998-9) and Dynamos (on loan from Ajax Cape Town — 2001).”

The year 2002 saw the striker making an unexpected move to Bulawayo-based Highlanders, completing the feat of playing for Zimbabwe’s top three.

He stayed at Amahlolanyama until July of the same year after banging in a record 10 goals for the black and white-stripped side halfway into the season.

“I went back to South Africa, this time joining Bidvest Wits in 2006 before leaving for Cyprus. I sort of took some time off the pitch on my return from South Africa until last year, when I joined Kariba-based Lake Harvest as player coach.”

Shutto, who is currently an assistant coach with Harare-based Gunners Football Club, says of his former team’s chances as he prepares to board the team bus to Barclays Sports Club; “I’m confident they can do it. It remains tricky but the good thing is that they have one hand on the title. It is theirs to lose.

“However, they have to do their own thing and forget what the other teams are doing.”

The former Zimbabwe Under 20 national team captain adds:

““There appears to be a dearth of strikers in the league today. For instance, when I was crowned Soccer Star in 1996, I had banged in 21 goals but was the fourth highest scorer then. Makwinji Soma-Phiri took the Golden Boot with 24 or 25 goals.

“There were not less than three CAPS United players among the top five in that year. The whole issue starts with development. That is the biggest challenge Zimbabwean soccer faces today.”

Today

Hwange vs Chapungu (Colliery), Chicken Inn vs Border Strikers (Luveve), Triangle vs Dynamos (Gibbo), FC Platinum vs Highlanders (Mandava), CAPS United vs Ngezi Platinum (NSS)

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