Bring on Zamalek says CAPS

HARARE - Zimbabwean side CAPS United will be looking to kick start their African Champions League campaign on a positive note when they face Egyptian giants Zamalek away in Cairo.

Makepekepe and Zamalek are together in Group B which also comprises Al-Ahli Tripoli of Libya and USM Alger of Algeria.

The Green Machine are expected to leave Harare this afternoon ahead of Friday’s evening game and will make a stop-over in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia before connecting to Cairo this evening.

The Zimbabwean champions will only arrive in the Egyptian capital in the early hours of tomorrow morning ahead of their clash with the White Knights, who have won the African Champions League five times before.

This will give the Green Machine a chance to hold a training session at the match venue at the 75 000-seater Cairo International Stadium.

Speaking after yesterday’s morning training session at the National Sports Stadium a relaxed CAPS coach Lloyd Chitembwe said they are going to Cairo with one aim of being competitive so that they can return with a positive result.

“We are going there to try and do well to try and compete. I think this is very important for us we need to do well,” Chitembwe said.

The reigning Coach of the Year said they are deriving motivation from last year’s success as well as their triumph in the qualifiers which saw them knocking out five-time African champions TP Mazembe of the DR Congo.

With the odds firmly against them, Makepekepe were able to grind out a famous 1-1 draw with against TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi during the first leg of the final qualifier.

United were able to hold on for a goalless draw in the second leg at the National Sports Stadium to reach the group stages of Africa’s premier inter-club competition via the away goals rule.

“We have been telling the boys to be competitive just like what we did last year and in the qualifying stages. We are deriving motivation from that, we were good last year and we are still good,” Chitembwe said.

“We went to Mazembe and not many people gave us a chance but here we are and we can only derive motivation from that.”

United last competitive match was two weeks ago when they thrashed Chapungu 4-0 in a league game.

Last weekend, Chitembwe’s side was inactive after the Harare derby against Dynamos was cancelled due to a lack of appropriate venue to host the match.

However, the Makepekepe coach is not losing much sleep over the fact that they have limited match practice ahead of the match against the White Knights.

“I think the only advantage is that the boys had rested and it’s good for the bodies. They are not machines like I always said we have players like Hardy (Zvirekwi) and Ronny (Pfumbidzayi) who have played football for more than one and half years now,” said Chitembwe.

“So you really need to be very sensible to try and freshen them a bit by obviously giving them time off and I think it has worked well.”

The former CAPS United midfielder also declared a clean bill of health within his team apart from veteran striker Leonard Tsipa who is still struggling with a hamstring injury.

Tsipa is a major doubt for Friday’s match as he is unlikely to be part of the travelling squad today.

The 2016 Golden Boot winner did not take part in yesterday’s training session at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.  

“Leonard is still carrying a knock and we hope he will get better with time,” Chitembwe said.

With Tsipa likely to miss the match, Chitembwe is expected to start with Abbas Amidu upfront or Dominic Chungwa.

Makepekepe are looking to bolster their striking options after having already lost Simba Nhivi after both parties failed to agree on a contract renewal.

Ghanaian forward Wilson Andoh is trying his luck at the club after arriving in the country at the weekend.

Former Harare City and ZPC Kariba forward Osborne Mukuradare is also training with the club in the hope impressing Chitembwe.

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