BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe appeared to take a sly dig at arch-rivals Dynamos, for winning a pre-season tournament last season and ending up fighting relegation, ahead of this afternoon’s mouth-watering invitational Charity Challenge Cup between the two teams.
The two Harare football giants, who struggled last season, clash at the Nationals Sports Stadium this afternoon in what could be a foretaste of what to expect from the teams in the upcoming season.
Makepekepe last season had their worst performance since Chitembwe joined the club in 2015, finishing eighth on the log standings, and the 2016 championship-winning gaffer is desperate to put the 2018 season behind him.
“Of course, winning the game is equally important, but I think at this stage it’s not what I am focusing on. I am focusing on having the right team for the better part of the season, which is from March 30 up until December, because I have seen so many teams winning these preparatory games and go on to falter during the course of the season,” Chitembwe said.
Ironically, it is Dynamos who have flattered to deceive during the pre-season competition in recent memory.
The Glamour Boys won the 2018 ZNA Charities Shield, which preceded the league season, but went on to fight relegation.
And Chitembwe is careful not to fall into the same trap.
“Personally, I respect the feelings of the fans, but I am a football coach, not a fan. So, you look at the bigger picture as to what the team needs at this stage. They need preparation and this is what we are basically doing, we are preparing the team for the season,” he said.
“So, at the end of the day we want to be very responsible by making sure what we are to do on Sunday will give us an indication of where we are in terms of performance. So far, the boys are giving us the right to believe that this season we have a better team than the one we had last season.”
CAPS United have done some good transfer business during the off-season luring back Phineas Bamusi from Triangle, capturing the signature of highly-rated winger Gabriel Nyoni as well as Clive Rupiya and Pride Zivengwa from Chapungu and TelOne FC respectively.
Chitembwe is particularly pleased with the bringing-in of Nyoni and Bamusi, who he says will give the team the right kind of width to do well.
He is looking to try out his combinations this afternoon against Dynamos this afternoon.
“It’s good that we have to play Dynamos. I am sure this game will serve that purpose for them to at least gauge or measure what they have been doing during preparation phase. For us it’s no exception, these guys have been training and players enjoy more playing games and there is no better opportunity to measure what you have been doing during the course of the pre-season,” Chitembwe said.
However, a match pitting CAPS United and Dynamos always carry high stakes regardless of the timing.
Dynamos coach Lloyd Chigowe is aware of it, but had his reservations about calling it a “big” match.
“I don’t know why you say big (match) when it is only a charity challenge match. It’s not the Africa Cup of Nations for goodness sake. Yes, it’s a competitive match and Dynamos would want to beat CAPS United, while CAPS United want to beat Dynamos. It has always been the norm, so there will be a fight on Sunday. But ‘big’? No, it’s just a pre-season game,” Chigowe said.
“From the moment CAPS United was formed, there was a rivalry between these two teams and you cannot erase the Harare derby. It’s the real match that everyone looks forward too.”
After rescuing the team from the dreaded chop last season, Chigowe has retained five players from last season’s team.
The veteran coach has been tasked with rebuilding a team to restore the glamour to the ailing giants.
He has brought in four foreigners — two Cameroonians, Vincent Mbega and Ngahan Claude Junior, as well as Ngandu Mangala from Congo and Ghanaian Robert Sackey.
Former Warriors winger Edward Sadomba, at 35, also made a return to the club that gave him fame while Munyaradzi Diya, Stephen Chimusoro, Edgar Mhungu and Try Andre Moffat are the other notable signings.
Dynamos would also fancy finishing a week in which they announced a $1 million sponsorship deal with Gold Leaf Tobacco Zimbabwe with flourish, by beating their arch-rivals.