The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Caps United Ready for Sundowns - Itayi Chiwara

CAPS United goalkeeper Itayi Chiwara says his team's international friendly against Mamelodi Sundowns at Gwanzura today will breathe life into their pre-season preparations. The match kicks off at 4pm.

Chiwara believes the match should set the momentum for their pre-season preparations that got off to a rather slow start.

"Now, most of the senior players are at training and they are looking forward to this game," said Chiwara.

"We have respect for Sundowns because they are a more professional side, but I hope we should be determined to get a good game.

"I hope that I will be selected to play and do my best," Chiwara has warned his teammates not to give too much room to their old gunslinger, Nyasha Mushekwi, when the Zimbabwe international striker returns to Gwanzura to face his former paymasters.

The Green Machine face Mamelodi Sundowns for the second time in a year, in a friendly international, following the two sides' clash, behind closed doors, in Polokwane last year.

CAPS United beat Sundowns 1-0 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in January last year with striker Clive Kawinga on target.

The Green Machine completed a very successful tour by defeating Black Leopards 1-0 in their second match.

But things have changed on both CAPS United and Sundowns. Makepekepe have parted ways with Northern Irishman Sean Connor and Lloyd Chitembwe, who were in charge of their technical team, while Sundowns also fired clueless Dutchman, Johan Neeskens.

The 1974 Dutch World Cup star proved horribly out of depth with South African football and had froze both Mushekwi and Method Mwanjali out of his team.

Sundowns are now under the guidance of former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane who has brought stability back into the team and they will look to the second half of the Super Diski season with a lot of promise.

Mosimane has restored Mwanjali into the first team and Mushekwi is also playing regularly now and scored twice when Sundowns beat Highlanders 2-0 in their first tour match at Barbourfields.

Mushekwi, who made his name at CAPS United before landing a move to the South African Premiership giants in 2010, is expected to lead their attack today if Mosimane does not decide to change his squad and give others a run.

If that happens, it will disappoint hundreds of CAPS United fans, expected to converge at Gwanzura, given they want to have one local dance with both Mwanjali and Mushekwi. efore leaving for Sundowns, Mushekwi had finished as the Premiership's top goalscorer with 21 goals.

Sundowns are taking advantage of the break in the South African league because of the African Cup of Nations to boost their off-season's preparations with a tour to Zimbabwe.

"I have played in the same team with Nyasha before and I know that the guy is dangerous, especially if he is given space in the box," said CAPS United 'keeper Chiwara.

"During the time he was at CAPS United, Nyasha was very good at aerial balls.

"So, during our preparations this week, I have been telling the new guys in the team to look out for his type of play.

"The defenders always have to be alert every time because Nyasha can do something unpredictable if he is given space in the box." Mwanjali could also feature today despite a possible life ban hovering over his head.

A former Warriors skipper, Mwanjali has been slapped with a life ban from football by Zifa for his alleged involvement in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.

He has appealed against both conviction and sentence and the Fifa Disciplinary Code says all avenues open for appeals should be exhausted before the world football governing body can endorse the ban and extend it worldwide.

Mwanjali played the first half in Bulawayo and was substituted in the 46th minute when Ghanaian international Rashid Sumaila came on.

Meanwhile, CAPS United's communications manager Joyce Kapota said her club is hoping to make the international match a worthwhile experience for local fans.

She said they have pegged rest of the ground tickets at US$3 while the western stand seat costs US$5 and US$10 for the VIP. After playing CAPS United today, Sundowns, who have veteran Zimbabwean international Esrom Nyandoro as the stand-in captain, will play Dynamos on Sunday in the capital. DeMbare will be plunging into the African Champions League with a preliminary round match against Lesotho Correctional Services,

Yesterday, Dynamos moved their preparations a gear up as they beat Black Mambas 3-1 in a practice match at Morris Depot with Ugandan midfielder Boban Ziruntusa, Morris Kadzola and Patrick Khumbula on target for the Glamour Boys.

Khumbula is back at Dynamos after a loan period at Hippo Valley and is hoping to fill one of vacant slots in the department while former Gunner defender, Byron Madzokere, is also training with the club. Prodigal sons, Evans Gwekwerere and Benjamin Marere, are also eager to rejoin the side.

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