…Green Machine end 11-year wait
Chapungu . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
Caps United . . . . . . . . . . . .(1)1
LLOYD Chitembwe wrote his name in Zimbabwean football folklore by guiding CAPS United to their first Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title in 11 years in a pulsating league marathon which was capped with a narrow win over Chapungu on the final day of the season at Ascot Stadium yesterday.
BY MUKUDZEI CHINGWERE
Striker Simba Nhivi’s second minute strike was enough to hand Makepekepe local football’s ultimate price – the first time they have reached the Holy Grail since 2005.
CAPS United came into the duel two points above closest rivals FC Platinum, who were also in action at the same time against Tsholotsho in Bulawayo, with the league gleaming for a new champion.
For Makepekepe, destiny was in their hands coming into the match, knowing that a victory would hand them the crown regardless of the result in Bulawayo.
It was sweet victory for Chitembwe, who threatened to quit after consistent vilification by a section of their fans midway through the season, but ultimately remained in charge of the underachieving Harare club.
And befittingly, Chitembwe was in a buoyant mood after the final whistle.
“I just want to thank God for this achievement, without Him we could not have achieved this. I am happy for the team. The players gave everything and we are rewarded with the title. I am happy and I just want to enjoy this moment,” said Chitembwe.
Club president Farai Jere assured that his triumphant side would be rewarded with participation in the CAF Champions League.
“We could not have fought for the title if we did not want to be among the champions. We are going to participate in the Champions League and right now we are in the process of finalising our team and with the team that I have, we are going to leave a mark in Africa’s elite league,” said Jere.
Chapungu coach John Nyikadzino congratulated his opposite number for the crown, though he was disappointed that his side ended the campaign on a losing note.
“Congratulations to Lloyd and his team for being the best team in the league this season, he deserved it.
“It is unfortunate for us that we conceded an early goal. We wanted to win this match at all cost. Every coach has his own ambitions and mine have been deflated by the loss; we wanted to end the season on a high, especially at home,” said Nyikadzino.
The Harare giants set the tone for coronation as early as the second minute when Nhivi capitalised on the hosts’ hesitant defending by tapping the ball beyond Talbet Shumba in goal for Chapungu, to give the Green Machine the much-needed early goal.
Ten minutes before halftime, the visitors had a chance to double their lead, but Tafadzwa Rusike’s effort from range was inches wide.
After the breather, CAPS United pushed for the cushion goal, but was constantly denied by heroic defending, especially from Chapungu captain Collen Kwaramba, who was in an uncompromising mood.
CAPS United goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda also tried his luck with a free kick from outside the box, but again failed to add his name to the score sheet.
Former Dynamos striker Patrick Kumbula was inches wide to spoil Makepekepe’s party when he headed Xolani Ncube’s cross just over the cross bar.
Enterprising wingback Ronald Pfumbidzayi weaved his magic from outside the box, but his delivery lacked precision.
Results at a glance:
Yesterday: Chapungu 0-1 CAPS United, Highlanders 3-0 Hwange, Ngezi Platinum 2-0 Mutare City, Border Strikers 0-1 ZPC Kariba, Dynamos 2-3 Chicken Inn, Tsholotsho 0-3 FC Platinum
Friday: Harare City 0-2 Triangle, Bulawayo 0-1 How Mine