CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe believes anxiety got the better of his players as the former Castle Lager Premiership soccer champions fired blanks in the drawn opening match of the season against Harare City at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The Harare giants enjoyed the lion's share of the exchanges but they could not convert the dominance into goals despite creating a number of good scoring chances, including a 51st minute effort from newboy Brian Muzondiwa that was denied by the woodwork.
However, Chitembwe, just like his opposite number Mark Harrison of Harare City who praised his charges for the point, was still impressed by his team's performance in their first outing of the season.
"I think I saw a lot of improvements in so many aspects of the game. I believe we did control the game very well. We really played well especially in the first half.
"Our dominance was there to show though we lacked a little bit of composure, especially in the final third and I am sure it was down to anxiety.
"The boys were too much in a hurry to want to get us goals but I think it's something that can be worked on.
"But I am very happy especially with so many aspects of the game considering the fact that this was our first game of the season and we still have a long way to go," said Chitembwe.
Former Makepekepe captain Hardlife Zvirekwi, whose hand was amputated following a car crash in Harare last week, was among the people who came to watch the match yesterday and he received a warm welcome from the supporters who had banners carrying messages of support in his recovery.
John Zhuwawu blew CAPS United's first chance high and wide following a commotion inside the City goal area in the first minute. Muzondiwa then sent a low shot wide following a good inter-change of passes with his partner Zhuwawu with a few minutes played before forcing a good save from Harare City's veteran goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu from another foray in the opening 20 minutes.
Makepekepe were forced to make a substitution in the 38th minute, pulling out Wisdom Mutasa for West African import Tony Fugo who was also hauled out midway through the second half as Chitembwe felt he was not getting the impact he wanted on the left flank that used to be played by Phineas Bamusi who is now at Triangle.
"It's the first game and the problematic area is the left side. All those changes were effected on the left side of the midfield. The reason why I put in Fugo after Wisdom was obviously I thought Fugo was going to give us a lot of imagination in terms of going forward, something that Wisdom was not giving us and when he got in he was not giving us as much.
"We had to make a change and brought on Milton (Ncube) who in terms of fitness levels is not yet at the level where we want him to be at. I am sure he did his best, he tried to give us the tight kind of balance on the left side. But generally I am happy with the contribution of each and every member of the team," said Chitembwe.
Harare City also had a fair share of scoring chances with probably the best coming in the 36th minute but striker William Manondo failed to execute after former Makepekepe skipper Moses Muchenje had threaded a good pass through the middle. New player Kuda Musharu and substitute Martin Vengesayi also came close in the second half.
The Sunshine Boys coach Harrison was happy with the draw.
"This draw is a massive confidence booster to the players. Look, we didn't play football today, as in the way we would have wanted to play. We can play much much better football than we did today.
"But you have to give credit to CAPS United. They are an experienced team, they starved us of the ball for long periods. It's a battle in there but what I was pleased with was we stuck at our job, we kept our shape well and competed with them in all parts of the field," said Harrison. "We played against probably one of the best teams in the country. They have got a massive amount of experience, they played Champions League football and they were always going to be difficult opponents.
CAPS United: P. Chigumba, K. Nyamupfukudza, J. Jangano, V. Musarurwa, S. Makatuka, C. Kamhapa, W. Mutasa (T. Fugo, 38 minutes, M. Ncube 67th minute), S. Nhivi, J. Ngodzo, J. Zhuwawu, B. Muzondiwa.
Harare City: M. Nyamupangedengu, R. Uchena, T. Chimwemwe, B. Chayambuka, M. Nyenye, L. Muyambo, M. Muchenje, W. Manondo, K. Musharu (T. Balakasi 85th minute), T. Tumba (P. Mpelele 71st minute), D. Chimwemwe (M. Vingisayi 56th minute).
CAPS Utd ... ... ... ... . 0
Harare City... ... ... ... 0