Silver lining for CAPS United

HARARE - Reigning Castle Lager Premiership champions CAPS United financial troubles could be over as the club is on the verge of sealing agreements with sponsors to bankroll their operations.

The news will come as a huge relief to the 2016 champions, who have been embroiled in a pay and winning bonus dispute with their players.

Makepekepe players went on industrial action ahead of their season opener against Shabanie Mine.

Although they won the title last year, the issue of payment disputes was a recurring theme at the Green Machine training ground.

The players even caused a 36-minute delay to kick-off for their Chibuku Super Cup first round tie against Tsholotsho last October as they demanded their dues.  

Makepekepe are also yet to secure the services of striker Simba Nhivi, who played a key role in last year’s campaign, following the expiry of his contract.

The development could leave United with limited options upfront as the transfer window is already closed.

Nhivi, who is also believed to be on the radar of several Tanzanian clubs, only participated in the African Champions League qualifying matches but has not featured in the team’s opening two league matches against Shabanie and Harare City.

Speaking at the team’s weekly press conference Makepekepe marketing director Hannah Wright said they are on the verge of revealing their sponsors.

“We have got a couple but obviously it’s a bit too early for me to name them, we just wait to put pen to paper but obviously we got some very exciting partners coming on board in the next couple of weeks, we hope to sign our agreements with them,” Wright said.

“Between myself, (club president) Farai Jere, coach (Lloyd Chitembwe) we all have been working hard in this economic climate at the moment to bring on the best.

“We are looking for more partners rather than sponsors so we are very happy we have got some good sponsors and partners coming on board in the next couple of weeks.

“It will relieve all the pressure on . . . Jere, so we are excited. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to disclose anything at the moment but just wait and see.”

The Green Machine has been strongly linked with a sponsorship deal with NetOne after Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile phone services provider gave the players lines and T-shirts shortly before their trip to DR Congo to face TP Mazembe in the African Champions League.

There are also suggestions that Makepekepe could also be entering a sponsorship agreement with BancABC.

However, the bank already sponsors Premiership side Dynamos, Highlanders and Chapungu.  

Meanwhile, Chitembwe insists he is not concerned by their back-to-back defeats in the Uhuru Cup as they prepare to face Tsholotsho in the league at the National Sports Stadium this Sunday.

The Green Machine endured a frustrating week following a 1-0 loss to bitter rivals Dynamos in the semi-final of the Uhuru Cup before going down to FC Platinum by a similar margin in the third and fourth play-off of the same tournament.

“The games did serve a purpose and for us it was to look for other players who have not seen a lot of game time,” Chitembwe said.

“For me, I am not looking at the defeats in the Uhuru Cup; those matches even the ZNA Charities games are not part of our key result areas.

“They are not part of what we desire to have this season and I am sure we did set ourselves targets in the Champions League as well as in the league and not necessarily these invitational tourneys. But all the same they did serve a purpose of assessing other players.

“I am not worried about losing those matches at all. I don’t think Independence Cup is something that we have wanted to achieve. But what we really want to achieve is to win our league games as well as having a good run in the Champions League that’s where our focus and target lies.”

Chitembwe is expecting another difficult outing against Tsholotsho this Sunday.

“All the Premiership teams are never easy and we don’t expect anything less when we face Tsholotsho. This is a new game and we will try and get a result that we so cherish,” he said.

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