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All eyes on Dembare vs Caps United

by Robson Sharuko
26 Apr 2016 at 06:37hrs | Views
CAPS United rarely win the opening match of the season, since the turn of the millennium, and the Green Machine have only picked full points, in Game One of their league championship campaign, on just SIX occasions in 17 attempts.

And, on two of the occasions they won their first league game, in 2004 and 2005 under the tutelage of trailblazing coach Charles Mhlauri, the Harare giants went on to be crowned the football champions of this country.

Lloyd Chitembwe was a member of that team, with the two championship medals he collected back then as a gritty midfielder in the twilight of a career where he had distinguished himself, making him the club's most decorated player in the Green Machine history.

Blessed with a never-say-die spirit, Chitembwe refused to let time consume his powers to either shine or fight and his crowning moment as a player came exactly 10 years ago when he forced his way into the Warriors' squad for the 2006 Nations Cup finals where, at the age of 34, he was the oldest man in that team which landed in Egypt.

Now, he is the coach of his beloved Green Machine, his latest romantic flirtation with the club fuelling a wave of expectations at CAPS United that, after more than a decade in the wilderness, the capital's second biggest football franchise could roar again and find their way back into the light.

For half-a-dozen years, CAPS United have been pummelled into submission by their biggest rivals Dynamos, with the Green Machine failing to find a way to beat the Glamour Boys in the league and watching from a distance as the Blue Army won four straight league titles under record-breaking coach Callisto Pasuwa.

But, for the believers among the CAPS United fans, Chitembwe was the last CAPS United coach to beat DeMbare in the league, exactly seven years to this month, when a Nyasha Mushekwi double at Rufaro blew life out of the Glamour Boys and left them in a daze.

Oscar Machapa, whose club AS Vita is one of the eight teams that qualified for the group stages of this year's CAF Champions League after the Congolese giants eliminated Mamelodi Sundowns, was the architect of that victory, tormenting defender Sam Mutenheri with the same trick and finding Mushekwi with perfect balls flighted from the wing.

Now and again Machapa would feign his move as if he was cutting into the right and then, without breaking stride, push the ball to the outside, leaving Mutenheri stranded on both occasions and just like the fans inside the stadium, a mere spectator as he watched him float the cross for Mushekwi to finish off.

Such is the impact of the Harare Derby, Mutenheri never recovered from that ordeal, his glory days in the Premiership virtually ended on the big stage, and soon he was a forgotten man, who used the lower divisions to find a way into retirement.

Chitembwe, who was mobbed by CAPS United fans as he left the National Sports Stadium on Sunday after his team's 2-1 victory over a Harare City side that gave them all sorts of problems last year, with the gaffer being credited for the win after his decision to bring in Tafadzwa Rusike changed the complexion of the duel, has seen his men win two and draw one of their first three games.

He has also seen them beat Chapungu, a team they failed to beat in their two league matches last year and there are hopes at the Green Machine that, now that the man who masterminded their last league win over the old enemy in a league match, they could get it right now.

"I think it's going to be a very good game because Dynamos have won their last game and we also won ours," said Chitembwe yesterday.

"It's always a big match whenever these two sides meet and I hope that the hype created will be matched by the quality of the game.

"Leonard (Tsipa) had been away for a long time and it happened that he came back in a high pressure game so it was something that was expected (to be introduced from the bench against Harare City).

"But I am sure by the time we reach the weekend he will be ready for the game. Otherwise he is fit, it was nothing serious. So far so good, but as a coach you can never be satisfied. I always want to see the team improving every time they play and the good thing is that I am seeing this positive development.

"The players showed very good commitment (against Harare City) in the second half. Harare City were throwing everything at us in the last quarter and it was expected because they wanted to salvage something while we wanted to consolidate what we had.

"But I was very impressed with the effort shown by these guys. It was very commendable."

On Sunday, he faces the big one, without a doubt and this CAPS United revolution — which started with Chitembwe's arrival last season — will be put to the test.


Source - the herald

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