CAPS smile again

HARARE – Following elimination from the African Champions League, everything appeared gloomy at CAPS United with the players lacking in confidence, leaving the club at its lowest ebb.

Chances of retaining their Castle Lager Premiership title looked slim at that point as Makepekepe dropped into the relegation zone.

United went on to lose some of their best players in defender Dennis Dauda, Abbas Amidu and Ronald Chitiyo raising an avalanche of questions as to whether a lost season was on the cards for the side.

There was even talk of coach Lloyd Chitembwe vacating his position after a disappointing 2-0 loss to Yadah FC.

But Makepekepe have been a different side in recent weeks, winning three of their last four matches.

The revival began with a slender 1-0 win over ZPC Kariba before Makepekepe were agonisingly held to a 1-1 draw by Tsholotsho.

Last Wednesday, Chitembwe’s side were outstanding in a 2-1 midweek win over title-chasing FC Platinum at Rufaro Stadium.

On Sunday, Makepekepe went a gear up and gave another eye-catching performance as they thumped title hopefuls Ngezi Platinum Stars 3-0 at Rufaro.

Dominic Chungwa has been the mainstay of the United revival with four goals in as many matches while new boy John Zhuwawo is working his socks off to justify his place in Chitembwe’s starting XI.

Makepekepe assistant coach Tostao Kwashi paid tribute to the players for the way they have turned around their season.

“If you noticed CAPS for the past 15 months or so we have just been beating teams. Last year, we never lost a game at the National Sports Stadium which is a brilliant record. So in any normal football community, you are bound to go through a lean spell,” Kwashi said after the win over Ngezi Platinum Stars.

“But during that spell, we kept faith in ourselves because we know what we are capable of doing and don’t forget most of these guys are the ones who beat Zamalek, TP Mazembe. These guys have been competing at the highest level in the Champions League.

“So like I said, yes, we went through a rough patch but the most important thing like the Bible says; run your own race and God will reward you. Don’t worry about the next opponent but just worry about yourselves.”

Having toiled in the relegation zone for the better part of the season, the Green Machine are now firmly back on track as they are now on 13th place on the log table with 24 points.

Crucially, for Chitembwe’s charges, they still have five games in hand which if they win them all could take their tally to 39 points.

But the defending champions however, are cautious about not getting carried away by their recent impressive shows.

“We have set targets for ourselves and because of what we did last year the barometer has been high, that is why people have been saying a lot of negative things when we were going through a bad patch. Everybody likes to laugh at a champion.

“Look at last season when Manchester United didn’t win anything, everybody was having a go at them; Barcelona, people had a go at them when Real Madrid won, that’s part and parcel of football business.

“In life if you are an ambitious athlete or an ambitious person all you say to yourself is never say never. But we are not giving ourselves pressure to win the title. We are the reigning champions and the pressure we have is within ourselves. We don’t want to talk a lot about the league title right now, what we want to talk about is our next game against Black Rhinos on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be another tough battle. So as it is right now, it’s all about taking it step by step and going up the ladder. We just need to keep on working hard.”

While CAPS United appear to have found their touch, Chicken Inn, however, were the biggest beneficiaries from the weekend’s results as they now enjoy a two-point lead over second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars.

The Gamecocks overpowered struggling Black Rhinos  0-1 at Rufaro Stadium on Saturday.

Ngezi Platinum are still in with a chance though and their coach Ndiraya refused to throw in the towel as yet.

“I think I have said it previously that our team target is top four but it doesn’t mean we want to be top four,” Ndiraya said.

“We want any position in that order, including number one. We keep fighting, we fought as a team to be where we are and we will not be drawn back by the result. It’s part of the game, we didn’t fight enough to get the result but we will keep on working hard.”

PSL Fixtures:

Tomorrow: CAPS United v Black Rhinos (National Sports), Highlanders v Tsholotsho (Barbourfields)

Thursday: How Mine v Dynamos (Barbourfields)

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