Much was expected from CAPS

JOHANNESBURG - In 1998, Dynamos confounded all and sundry when they reached the African Champions League final losing 4-2 to Asec Mimosa in very controversial circumstances.

That was the closest a Zimbabwean team was on the verge of winning a continental title. Since the Glamour Boys’ exploits then, few Zimbabwean clubs have managed to reach the zenith of the African competition.

With the now expanded African Champions League tournament in progress, one would have anticipated Zimbabwe’s sole representatives, CAPS United, to really have a go at this tournament and make a name for themselves.

With an added cash incentive for teams that reach the group stages, CAPS who eliminated TP Mazembe of DRC, went into the group stages with their supporters expecting them to reach at least the quarter-finals.

But two defeats to Al Ahli Tripoli have dented CAPS’ chances of mounting a real challenge and it will now take a Herculean effort for them to reach the last eight of Africa’s biggest club competition.

The one defeat they really let themselves down was the 4-2 defeat in Harare. The secret for a team to do well in any major competition is to win home matches and try to avoid defeat in half of the away games.

That is what Dynamos managed to do in that 1998 campaign; they won almost all of their games at home and stole a point here and there away from home.

There is no reason why this Makepekepe side lack self-belief. Zimbabwe players have come of age and that fear factor of travelling away from home is long gone.

Al Ahli Tripoli are not allowed to play any of their matches at home because of the civil strife in Libya and CAPS should have taken advantage of this to make sure that they wouldn’t lose a game against an unsettled side.

But now with three points from four games, the Harare side has a mountain to climb if they are to defy odds and win their remaining two games and reach the last 8. It is still possible but very difficult.

There is no reason why CAPS must struggle while the likes of Zanaco of Zambia are flying the country’s flag sky high.

The Zambian side lead Group D ahead of the usual “culprits” Al Ahly of Egypt, Wydad Casablanca and Cameroon’s Coton Sport.

Last year’s champions and another of Cosafa representatives, Mamelodi Sundowns are again in the mix and are sitting second to Esperance of Tunisia in Group C.

If CAPS fail to make further impressions in their remaining two games, it would be an anti-climax for the Green Machine to which much was anticipated.

This is an opportunity for the club to make money, to market its players to the outside world and above all to fly the country’s flag.

If things don’t go well, still it is not the end of the road for the Green Machine. They have gained enough experience by campaigning on the continent and must regroup and come back stronger next year.

A good campaign for club in Africa is good for the growth of the game in the country and in most cases countries that do well normally benefit from their clubs’ participation in international tournaments.

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