The Herald (Harare)

1 August 2014

Zimbabwe: CAPS Director Quits

CAPS United were rocked yesterday when influential board member Lewis Uriri quit his post -- exactly seven months after being unveiled as part of a six-man crew whose mandate was to bring stability and life to the misfiring Green Machine.

The respected Harare lawyer, who was part of the behind-the-scenes crew at the Green Machine between 2001 and 2006 who helped transform CAPS United into a team that won back-to-back league championships in 2004 and 2005, stepped down from the board of directors yesterday.

Uriri, who brought a wealth of legal expertise to a CAPS United board tasked with coming up with a vision that would help the Green Machine find its way back to success, guide the team on a path that would enhance its professionalism and make its brand attractive to sponsors again, wrote to club president Twine Phiri yesterday advising him of his decision to step down.

"I hereby resign from the CAPS United board," Uriri said in his letter which was copied to fellow board members Farai Jere, Nhamo Tutisani, Mordecai Sachikonye, Khumbulani Mhlope and Alex Munyaka.

"Thank you for affording me the opportunity to serve the Green Machine once again, having done so between 2001-2006.

"I had hoped, when I accepted my current appointment, to be able to fully commit myself to the turnaround of the club and a return to the glory days.

"My professional and family commitments are such that I am unable to continue serving.

"I have cherished every moment I have spent with the professional men who constitute the board. I will, as and when occasion deem expedient, render such support and advice as may be required of me.

"I hope to serve the Green Machine should my other commitments allow."

The CAPS board had successfully negotiated a settlement that saw Jere returning into the trenches of the administration of the team, after his 25 percent stake in the club was acknowledged, earlier this year.

Sources told The Herald yesterday that Uriri was also not happy with the conduct of a CAPS United staff member, questioning his professionalism, and saying that his behaviour had complicated his relationship with the club's leadership.

"There are some personal issues that have also contributed to all this and led to the advocate to decide that he was better off not being part of the leadership because, by continuing in his role on the board, he felt that it was undermining his professionalism because he feels there are some lines that professionals cannot cross," said the sources.

"The advocate has been trying to get things sorted and you have to give him credit for that but it appears that his spirited efforts have been ignored and he decided it was better that he walk away."

Uriri, a passionate fan of the club who had become a regular feature, together with his family, all dressed in the team's green colours, at CAPS United's home matches, has also -- just like some of the board members -- been contributing financially towards the upkeep of the club.

CAPS United paid a small chunk of the amount that Uriri had poured into their coffers this year, after their league match against Dynamos, and the club has committed itself to dissolving the remainder of the debt.

Uriri had set himself very high standards, on his return into the trenches of domestic football administration, and challenged the Green Machine to be top of the Premiership table, in the first 10 games, or he would walk away from the club. The Green Machine have not won the league championship, since Charles Mhlauri sealed back-to-back titles in 2005, and have lived in the shadows of their eternal rivals Dynamos who have won four league titles, including three on the bounce, since CAPS United were last crowned champions.

"I promise to resign if CAPS United are not leading the pack after 10 games," Uriri said on social media site Twitter.

But even though CAPS United were not top of the table, after the first 10 games, Uriri must have been charmed by the way the Green Machine had transformed themselves into a competitive unit and decided to stay for the long haul.

Last month, after Makepekepe had picked their first point from the Harare Derby since Callisto Pasuwa became coach of bitter rivals DeMbare and then lost to the same opponents in a closely-fought NetOne OneWallet Cup quarter-final, a week later, Uriri led the battle cry for his team ahead of their third encounter, against the Glamour Boys, in as many weeks.

"We are hard pressed. We are not crushed," Uriri, said on Twitter.

"The Premiership return leg next Sunday will prove that a new dawn has broken."

And, for 45 minutes of an irresistible attacking display in which the bar denied them twice and good chances were fluffed, Uriri's prophecy was on course for fulfilment. But, then, someone reminded Dynamos that they had a Derby to play and, in the last 45 minutes, they turned the tide and goals by Washington Pakamisa and Russell Madamombe fired them to another victory.

CAPS United, though, are just four points behind leaders Highlanders, with 42 points still at stake, and there was so much, in the way they gallantly against Dynamos, to provide hope that, if they can keep this level of performance, they could be a big factor in the championship race.

Interestingly, the Green Machine have the same number of points this year -- after 16 games of their Premiership campaign -- which was in their kitty, after the same number of games in their league campaign last year.

Last year, after 16 games, CAPS United had 27 points, exactly the same number of points they have in their bag, after the same number of games, in their league campaign this year. CAPS United had won eight out of their 16 league games last year, the same number of games they have won this year, had drawn three games, the same number of games they have drawn at the same stage this year and they had lost five games, the same number of games they have lost this year.

Even their goal-scoring return hasn't changed and where they had scored 20 league goals, after 16 games last year, the Green Machine now have scored 21 goals, just one more goal.

But, there has been a certain degree of improvement, in terms of their defence, with 15 goals conceded this season compared to the 19 goals that the club had leaked, at this stage, last year.

The same four points, which separated CAPS United from the leaders of the Premiership race after 16 games last season, still provide the same gap between the Green Machine and Highlanders, who are in pole position, in this year's championship race.

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