Nhivi silences boo-boys

HARARE - While the rest of his teammates have just left Zifa Village after a gruelling training session, CAPS United forward Simba Nhivi stays behind to have a chat with the Daily News on Sunday.

The rush to leave the training venue by the other players is understandable considering the blistering heat last Thursday afternoon which is made worse by the synthetic playing surface installed here.

Nhivi is all smiles and talks with a rare clarity which is uncommon among local players, who prefer to be elusive when discussing crucial matters.

It has been a whirlwind few weeks for the former Mamelodi Sundowns forward after his return to United from a short frustrating stint in Tanzania.

CAPS United started the season with three straight draws against Harare City (0-0), Bulawayo Chiefs (2-2) and FC Platinum (0-0).

Although they failed to win, the 2016 champions created a glut of chances in those matches and surprisingly, Nhivi has been the fans’ fall guy despite running his socks off.

Ahead of last Sunday’s game against Black Rhinos, the popular opinion amongst CAPS followers was for coach Lloyd Chitembwe to bench the former Shooting Stars and Dynamos striker.

Chitembwe is, however, one coach that does not bow down to the demands of fickle supporters and started with a front two of Nhivi and Abarasim Chidiebere.

Nhivi repaid the faith shown in him by the technical team by scoring a brace to help United secure their first win of the season.

You could tell that those two goals meant a lot to the 28-year-old forward as he celebrated by pointing to his name on the back of his shirt.

Due to their vacillating nature, those fans that were on his back were now signing him praises for the remainder of the match.

Nhivi knows that fans are always going to be critical of the club’s players if they don’t win but argues that no footballer gets on the pitch and wants to lose a match willingly. 

“These are our fans and they are there to support us. At the end of the day we need them because they always want us to do our best and they want us to perform,” he says to the Daily News on Sunday.

“But what they must understand is that we are CAPS United players, I did not come here to sit and be a passenger on the pitch.

“My job is to score goals and help CAPS United win. Obviously since I joined CAPS when I was young, my aim was to perform and do well on the pitch.

“When that doesn’t happen, it does not mean that I’m aiming to underperform so the fans have to rally behind us during our tough times and the god times.”

Nhivi adds: “We need them because we know they come with a lot of frustrations to the stadium hoping the team can help them let out those frustrations.

“But as players we just have to welcome whatever the fans say; criticism sometimes pushes me hard to look at some of the things that I can improve on which I’m not doing right.”

The Makepekepe forward is thankful for the support he gets from Chitembwe and the rest of the Makepekepe technical team.

Despite the condemnation from the fans, Chitembwe has included Nhivi in the starting XI in all of United’s four matches thus far. 

“To be honest, the technical team always motivates me. When I started the season, I was not at a high, I started on a low but the coaches gave me drills to boost my performances and confidence,” the striker says.

“Coach Lloyd has always pushed me very hard and has a lot of faith in me so when a coach has faith in you, you would want to repay him.

“I’m grateful to have such a technical team led by coach Lloyd and I’m grateful that I’m getting a chance to play. He’s guiding me as a father and he’s pushing me to work even harder; you know the kind of a coach he is. He expects a lot from his players.”

Up next for Makepekepe this afternoon is a clash against newly-promoted side Herentals at the National Sports Stadium and Nhivi hopes they can maintain the momentum they gained from the Rhinos victory.

“We need to be focused and we have to be in the right frame of mind going into the next game against Herentals,” he says.

“There is no team that is in the league by fluke; Herentals are in the top flight because they deserve to be in the Premiership.

“We have to be focused and apply the tactics we have been practising here at training throughout the week.”

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