CAPS UNITED president Twine Phiri has conceded that his club is struggling financially but has remains bullish in the face of adversity insisting that Makepekepe could still win the Premiership title despite their financial woes. Phiri told Star FM yesterday he was confident the rebuilding exercise he had introduced at CAPS United will bear fruit and even yield the country's third biggest club, their first championship in nine years.
CAPS United last won the championship in 2005 when they completed their second league title under the tutelage of coach Charles Mhlauri.
Mhlauri is now based in the United States and occasionally follows developments at CAPS United from his base but the Green Machine has failed to scale the similar heights.
CAPS United, who finished a disappointing 10th place last season, were dealt a major blow in November when the club's vice-president and chief financier Farai Jere quit citing problems related to his shareholding in the Premiership giants.
Since Jere's departure, financial woes have haunted CAPS United's preparations for the 2013 season with a player boycott of training leading to the expulsion of seven senior players, including the former Warriors quartet of strikers Washington Pakamisa, Shingi Kawondera, and defenders Asani Nhongo and Tapiwa Khumbuyani.
Phiri said he had fired the players for allegedly breaching the CAPS United code of conduct, arguing that no one was bigger than the club "even myself despite being the leader".
"After being briefed on what had transpired I noticed that those players do not deserve to be at CAPS United because when you are at a club like ours you have to be professional and if you have any grievances, there are channels to be followed and they know the ways of doing it, so if someone thinks he is bigger than the club and if I am still alive, I will deal with him so that the club moves forward.
"I am not even bigger than the club, so people shouldn't point fingers at Joe Makuvire (new CAPS United chief executive), they should come to me if they have any questions.
"These are the same players who led us into number 10 last season and it is high time I move forward with new players . . . players who are committed to the CAPS United cause " Phiri said.
The CAPS United boss, however, told Star FM radio that although he did not have the funds to inject into the team, the club would not collapse.
So bullish was Phiri that he declared that the youthful CAPS United side he was assembling could even deliver the championship despite the financial problems they were facing.
Phiri, who is also the Premier Soccer League chairman, said he was not amused by their 10th place finish which capped a poor season in which CAPS United lived in the shadows of their bitter city rivals Dynamos who secured a second league and cup double.
"Ichokwadi kuti ku CAPS United hatina kutamba zvakanaka last year, ma coaches anga ariko but we had the wrong material.
"This time tirikuda kuedza kuwunza vakomana vechidiki timbowona kuti zvakamira sei (We did not do well last year, we had the coaches but did not have the right material and this time we have tried to infuse younger players and we will see where we go from here).
"Asi chandiri kuda kuti ndiudze vanhu ndechekuti hatisi kuti tirikuda kuwuraya club (I would want to assure the public that whatever we are doing will not result in the club collapsing).
Phiri said although Jere had been very helpful at CAPS United he claimed that his former deputy had decided to quit the club in order to focus on his growing business investments.
"The truth is Mr. Jere vakati havachada ne zvemutambo we bhora vavakuda kuita concentrate on business ravo ririkukura so we had to look for other people to help and take the club forward and that is when we brought in people like Makuvire to help out.
"Va Jere vaitibatsira and as the club president I am saying we need to move forward," Phiri said.
Asked to comment on allegations that he did not have the financial capacity to run CAPS United in 2013, the Harare businessman conceded that he did not have the money to run the club.
However, he argued that he had successfully administered the country's third biggest club in the past despite being faced by similar circumstances.
"Ini ndakagara ndisina mari yeku runner team (I have not always had the money to run the club but I have managed to run it without the money and even won championships).
"Ndagara ndisina mari kudaro let me assure you that I will run it ndisina mari and ichahwina championship (Even though I don't have money up to now, let me assure you that I will still run it like that and it will win the championship)," Phiri said.
Phiri said although Brenna Msiska was the caretaker coach, CAPS United were still looking at hiring another coach who would take over on a substantive basis but pleaded with the club's fans to be patient with their new-look team.
CAPS United will meet Black Rhinos in the inaugural Commander ZNA Charity Shield match on March 3 at Rufaro. Brigadier General, Howard Matombo, said while they would have preferred a Dynamos/Rhinos game, it was not possible to rope in the Glamour Boys who have a Champions League assignment on the same day.
Matombo said the Green Machine, who are undergoing a restructuring exercise in terms of their management, technical and playing personnel, would be worthy replacements.
"We thought it would be Dynamos versus Black Rhinos but I want to confirm that Black Rhinos will now play CAPS United in the Charity match," he said. Proceeds from the match will be donated to ZNA's charity organisations.