4 August 2009

Zimbabwe: CAPS United in Turmoil

Harare — CAPS United's title challenge wilted under the pressure of a hearty Gunners' comeback story at Gwanzura on Sunday, plunging the Green Machine into turmoil ahead of yet another high-profile clash against bitter rivals Dynamos at Rufaro on Sunday.

Makepekepe, the Cup Kings, clash against their biggest city rivals in the Nestle Charity Shield final at Rufaro on Sunday.

There are some who believe it's now all over for CAPS United, as far as the 2009 Premier-ship title is concerned, following their defeat at the hands of Gunners on Sunday.

Three weeks ago, the buzz in the capital was that the Week 20 clash between Dynamos and CAPS United would decide the destiny of the 2009 Premiership title race.

Now that game has lost part of its significance and, as things stand, with CAPS United having lost further ground in the Premiership race after their latest loss in which Gunners came back from behind.

That defeat left CAPS United 12 points adrift of Dynamos -- level on games played (18) -- and this means DeMbare need to lose four of their last 12 games, with Makepekepe winning all of them, just for the two teams to end up tied on points.

And that's a DeMbare side that is unbeaten since Elvis Chiweshe took over as coach in April.

Actually, the Dynamos-CAPS United match will now appeal more to the Gunners supporters than Makepekepe fans.

As things stand, a CAPS United win will benefit Gunners more.

Second-half goals by substitute David Rediyoni and the evergreen Ramson Zhuwawo saw Gunners bolster their place as Dynamos' closest challengers for the Premiership title following this crucial victory.

It was a game CAPS United needed to win to be in the running for, at least, the country's second African Champions League slot for 2010 as they took on a team that currently occupies second spot.

So eager were CAPS United to turn their fortunes around that they abandoned Rufaro, where all the four defeats had been inflicted, and moved to Gwanzura where they were based during their successful years - 2004 and 2005.

However, while it might have been a good move, psychologically, it seems someone did not do their homework because ever since abandoning Kadoma's Rimuka in April, Gunners have won ALL their matches at Gwanzura.

Gunners quit Rimuka following a 1-0 loss to CAPS United in the reverse fixture on Good Friday with Nyasha Mushekwi grabbing a late, late winner with a powerful header.

It was CAPS United's first victory of the season after being held to successive draws in the previous three matches while, for Gun-ners, it was their second home game without a goal and without a win.

So when CAPS United decided to take their home game to Gunners' home ground on Saturday, Moses Chunga's side had a mouthwatering record of six games played, six wins, 11 goals scored and two goals conceded.

Now that record has improved to seven games, seven wins, 13 goals scored and three conceded.

Despite fans calling for his head after Sunday's 2-1 defeat against Gunners, Chitembwe was quick to remind those criticising him that it was basically the same CAPS United side that battled relegation in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

"There are no short cuts to success. People forget that this is a team that has been fighting against relegation for the last three seasons and it's difficult to expect us to fight for the championship.

"It's a process that we have to go through, but there are a lot of positives in the team," said Chitembwe after the defeat.

However, some disgruntled CAPS United

fans were still loitering outside Gwanzura after 6pm on Sunday, waiting for Chitembwe to emerge from the stadium.

In a horrible incident, a section of the CAPS United fans attacked defender Danger Fourpence after blaming him for playing a big part in Gunners' second goal.

They felt Fourpence has been a costly defender for CAPS United and singled him out for contributing to all their defeats to date.

l They believe Fourpence was to blame when Edmore Chitato grabbed the winner in CAPS United's first league defeat at the hands of Monomotapa on May 20.

l Fourpence's intended back pass to goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda was then intercepted by Marlon Tarusarira as Kiglon claimed a 1-0 win over CAPS United on May 30.

l In the 2-0 defeat to Shooting Stars, Fourpence was involved in a mix-up with Method Mwanjali, which allowed substitute Esau Amisi to steal the ball and give his side the lead.

l In the 2-1 defeat to Eagles, Fourpence was also blamed after his defensive lapse allowed Courage Denias room to break through and put his side 1-0 up in the first half.

l Then in last week's Nestle Charity Shield semi-final against Monomotapa, Fourpence allowed Charles Chiutsa to run in front of him and head in the equaliser which forced the game into extra-time despite CAPS United being 2-0 up at half-time.

But while some fans targeted Fourpence, another section still blamed Chitembwe for keeping faith in the defender and also making costly second-half substitutions.

Against Gunners he made all three substitutions while CAPS United were still leading 1-0.

Unfortunately, all his three substitutes failed to make positive contributions and Gunners came from behind to snatch the three points.

In pulling out Lazarus Muhoni, Tendai "DJ Malaika" Nyamadzawo and Marvel Samaneka while bringing on Tafadzwa Rusike, Lulu Milanzi and Thabani Goredema, Chitembwe seemed to have gone defensive.

After the game, Gunners assistant coach Darlington Dodo said that they benefited more from Chitembwe's substitution.

"Those three players worried us when they were in the game, especially the way Muhoni was running from the blind side.

"So when he didn't return for the second half we were somewhat relieved because it took the pressure away from us.

"Also there was aggression from Samaneka and DJ Malaika so when they were taken off it gave us room to attack without worrying much about our back because Clive (Mwale) is not that dangerous playing from the middle as he is on the flanks.

"Milanzi was easy to contain and only (Leonard) Tsipa was our biggest threat to deal with in the second half.

"Those factors in a way worked to our advantage and eventually earned us the two second-half goals," said Dodo.

The former CAPS United assistant coach was happy with the contribution made by Gunners debutant, Ali Sadiki, who gave a good account of himself and might become a key player in their title chase if he works on his fitness.

Shooting Stars and Eagles closed in on CAPS United with crucial wins on Saturday.

Shooting Stars beat Highlanders 2-1 to join their victims and CAPS United on 27 points while Eagles edged Black Rhinos 1-0 to move to 26 points.

It was a disappointing result for Black Rhinos whose performance in the goalless draw against Dynamos three days earlier had suggested the army side was now capable of winning matches.

More worrying for Black Rhinos is the manner in which bottom-placed Underhill have been collecting points at home and they are now just two points behind Gishon Ntini's side with 11 more games to play.

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