14 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Caps Still in the Mix - Chitembwe

CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe maintains his team remains firmly in contention of progressing to the quarterfinals of this year's CAF Champions League despite his team's 2-0 defeat to Zamalek of Egypt in their opening Group B clash at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Friday night.

Two second-half headers from lone striker Bassem Morsi and substitute Stanley Ohawuchi aided by some poor goalkeeping from CAPS United goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda gave Zamalek a 2-0 home win over the Zimbabwean Champions.

The result means CAPS United are now second from bottom in Group B while Zamalek are second behind early leaders USM Alger on goal difference after the Algerian side claimed a 3-0 home victory over bottom side Ahli Tripoli of Libya.

Chitembwe, whose side will host USM Alger in the second round of fixtures at the National Sports Stadium on May 23, said they made a good account of themselves against their muchfancied opponents in their first-ever group stage encounter in Africa's premier club football tournament.

Zamalek were the runners-up in last year's competition.

"In terms of perfomance, I'm sure we gave them as much as we got from them. I think we also have a good chance prevailing over them [at home] considering the way we dominated the proceedings especially in the second half," Chitembwe told reporters after Friday night's defeat.

"The second half perfomance gives us the hope that going forward we have a great team that can compete against anyone at this level of the game. So we are very happy going forward and I think we are still in it big time and our chances are as good as any other team in the competition because we still have five games to play," he said.

While he was happy that his team managed to match their opponents tactically and physically, they were found wanting on the mental aspect after Sibanda's costly errors.

The Harare giants had rode their luck in the first half as Zamalek squandered a slew of goal-scoring opportunities, but lone striker Morsi broke the deadlock 11 minutes after the restart after Sibanda fumbled at his tame header.

The 30-year-old shot-stopper was at fault again as Ohawuchi made sure of the three points seven minutes from time with another soft header, but Chitembwe refused the square the blame solely on his goalkeeper.

"In my view, technically we were slightly better than the more seasoned Zamalek and physically, we finished much stronger in the second half and tactically, the fact that we were in control of the game for the better part of the match tells you how good we were in terms of our tactical application," he said.

"Probably the area where we did not apply ourselves well was the mental aspect. Concentration is one key area of mental fitness and I even said to the boys, the only chance that these boys can breach our goal is when we make mistakes or present them with opportunities to score. It never looked like they were capable of hurting us from open play but we lost concentration and they capitalised on it."

Meanwhile, Zamalek's Portuguese coach Augusto Inacio is worried about his team's lack of ruthlessness in front of goal after seeing his players wasting numerous scoring opportunities during the win over CAPS United.

"Wasting many goal scoring opportunities could push me to visit the hospital soon. It is very dangerous and could lead the team to loss in the coming matches," Inacio said in the press conference after the match.

"Winning the match came as compensation after the missed chances in the first half. We started our attacks perfectly, but we lacked the final touch," added the 62-year-old coach who took charge at Zamalek in April.

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