Zimbabwe: Is It Coming Home for CAPS?

10 December 2019

It's coming home!

You have probably heard this song, released by British band "The Lightning Seeds" in 1996, or even read about it before.

Those English football fans in full cry -- singing their World Cup theme song, the one pregnant with expectation, as they rally behind their Three Lions.

That's exactly what CAPS United fans have been singing during the two-week break enforced by the Chibuku Super Cup and FC Platinum's Champions League commitments, as the battle for domestic football's biggest prize reaches a thrilling climax in the next four days.

A wonderful week that started with an outdoor party, with CAPS United celebrating the arrival of their luxurious team bus, fittingly ended with an indoor party as they celebrated the return of the Soccer Star of the Year award into their stable.

It's coming home.

That's what they said about the bus, which their golden benefactor Nyasha Mushekwi bought for them, and it came to pass when the 45-seater coach arrived home last week.

It's coming home.

That's what they also said about the Soccer Star of the Year award and, three years after it last resided in their pastures, it came to pass when Joel Ngodzo brought it home last Friday.

And, it's coming home.

That's what they are also saying about the league championship, three years after they last won it on a nervy final day at Ascot, in Gweru.

After winning just two league championships, in their first 36 years in the Premiership, the Green Machine could match that number of titles, in just four years, tomorrow.

Darlington Dodo and his men visit Baobab for a duel against Ngezi Platinum tomorrow knowing they could be crowned champions should they win and FC Platinum drop points in their home battle against Black Rhinos at Mandava.

And, even if it doesn't happen for CAPS United tomorrow, it could -- like that Castle Lager advert which casts its huge shadow on this marathon -- all come together at home on Sunday.

A shoot-out between the league's top two teams to decide the championship, on the final day of the season, the football gods couldn't have scripted it any better.

The team with the best attack (CAPS United) versus the team with the best defence (FC Platinum).

Both sides sharing an identical identity rooted in the colour green, which represents life, renewal, nature, energy, growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, the environment and healing power.

One of them has won this league championship, in the past three years, and one of them is set to win the league championship, again, this year.

For both sides, this feels like 2016 when, just like what is obtaining now, CAPS United held a two-point lead over FC Platinum in the same race with two games remaining.

And, just as was the case in 2016, the Green Machine's penultimate league match was against Ngezi Platinum and, needing a victory to keep their advantage, CAPS United powered to a 1-0 win.

However, that match was in Harare while tomorrow's battle will be at Baobab where the Mashonaland West platinum miners, still reeling from the controversy related to how they lost the Chibuku Super Cup final at Barbourfields, are not in the mood to offer any freebies.

"The perfect scenario for me would be that we beat CAPS at home and then the two top teams meet in the final game to decide who wins the league championship," said Ngezi Platinum coach, Rodwell Dhlakama.

"Of course, we are still hurting from what happened at Barbourfields but we have to pick ourselves up and try and win games again and this is an important match for us because it's our last game before our fans and we need to give them something to make them happy."

FC Platinum have home advantage against Rhinos.

But, their sensational collapse at Barbourfields, where they crashed to a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia in a CAF Champions League match on Saturday, could have badly damaged their fragile confidence.

Three years ago, both CAPS United and FC Platinum won their final two games and, at the end of the season, the gap between the champions and the runners-up was two points.

For the Green Machine, there is a grand opportunity to mark the 40th anniversary of their first league championship, in 1979, with another title.

Shacky Tauro was the hero of that CAPS United campaign and was rewarded with the Soccer Star of the Year, in the same season, becoming the first Green Machine player to win the gong.

The lethal forward set the benchmark, in terms of excellence, for the future CAPS United stars who included Stanley Ndunduma, who won the Soccer Star of the Year award in 1982, George "Tyson" Nechironga (1990), Stewart Murisa (1996), Energy Murambadoro (2003), Cephas Chimedza (2004), Joseph Kamwendo (2005) and Hardlife Zvirekwi (2016).

Tauro died on June 17, 2009, and a Green Machine triumph, in the championship race this season, will be viewed by some as the perfect way to honour his memory on the 10th anniversary of his death.

CAPS United have tended to win the league championship, every season one of their players win the Soccer Star of the Year award, with the club being champions in 1979, 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2016. However, FC Platinum fans can also point to the fact CAPS United didn't win the championship in 1982, when Ndunduma was crowned Soccer Star of the Year, in 1990, when Nechironga won the award and in 2003 when Murambadoro was crowned king of the domestic Premiership.

That's three times, the number of league championships FC Platinum are hoping will be in their trophy cabinet at the end of this riveting race. But, is fate singing in CAPS United's corner? After all, in the year the Lightning Seeds released their hit song, which became a World Cup theme for the Three Lions, the domestic championship came home to the Green Machine stable for the first time after Independence.

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