On a cloudy November 26 afternoon, Ascot Stadium resembled the venue of a musical show as the CAPS United family sang and danced with joy, celebrating their 2016 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.
insidesport with MICHAEL KARIATI
“Tatora! (we have taken it!), we are the champions,” they sang as they celebrated their fifth league title in football history, and their first since 2005 when Malawian import Joseph Kamwendo inspired the Green Machine to the championship.
Outside the stadium, it was a good sight to see those green and white flags flapping from the windows of vehicles in motion, while the green and white jerseys were scattered everywhere in the streets.
It was worth the celebration and that good moment was accompanied by the declaration by club president Farai Jere that the Green Machine would represent Zimbabwe in the 2017 Caf Champions League.
This was a bold statement from a team with ambition, as Jere has made it clear that their aim is to emulate the achievement of South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns who this year won Africa’s biggest club competition.
However, the Green Machine should be warned that the Caf Champions League is not as easy as playing Border Strikers, Tsholotsho or Mutare City Rovers. It is a competition for Africa’s best teams.
Participating in the tournament demands a thorough assessment of the whole team to see whether Makepekepe are strong enough to sustain a realistic challenge for the African title.
One could say CAPS United are a strong side because they won the league championship, but in reality, the Green Machine are not all that strong and need a heavy manpower injection to strengthen the squad.
It is a fact that with the likes of Dennis Dauda, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Stephen Makatuka and goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, the CAPS United defence is their strongest department, but the same cannot be said of their striking force.
The truth is that there is no way CAPS United would make an impact in Africa by banking on the likes of veteran Leonard Tsipa or the unreliable Dominic Chungwa to spearhead their attack.
Although these players were very influential in the league title win, they might find the going a bit tough in Africa and can only be used sparingly.
However, there is optimism that the Green Machine will give a good account of themselves in Pan-African football after 11 years of absence.
Give Cuthbert Dube some credit
Cuthbert Dube’s reign as Zifa president might not have been milk and honey, but upon reflection, it certainly brought some positive results.
Dube might now be miles away from football, but Zimbabwean football is now beginning to reap, if not enjoy, the fruits of his labour.
The success that the national senior teams — both men and women — are enjoying today are a result of the foundation that Dube laid down with regards to his shrewd decision-making in the appointment of coaches.
It is Dube who appointed Shadreck Mlauzi as coach of the Mighty Warriors, replacing Rosemary Mugadza and it was him again who appointed Kalisto Pasuwa as mentor of the Warriors despite resistance from some quarters.
Both Mlauzi and Pasuwa have built their teams into strong outfits which have earned the respect of the international football family.
It should also be noted that the successful road to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the road to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations all began under Dube, including the famous 2-1 win over Malawi after the Warriors had travelled by road.
Although Dube is no longer in football after being swept away by the politics of the game, he can at least look back with pride on the success of the foundation he laid down.
Those who have taken over should build on that and ensure that the Mighty Warriors qualify for the next Olympic Games and the next Africa Women’s Cup of Nations finals and not destroy the foundation laid by focusing on petty politicking.
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