Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
CAPS United captain Hardlife Zvirekwi says the Green Machine are aiming to start their campaign on a high as they open their account in the new season against Premiership débutantes Whawha at Ascot tomorrow.
Makepekepe are looking to launch a serious challenge for the championship this year. The Harare giants are hoping to bag their first league title since 2005 when they won back-to-back titles under Charles Mhlauri.
There is a renewed sense of hope in the Green Machine camp after the side came close last year when they finished third in a troubled campaign under Taurayi Mangwiro.
But the coming on board of English coach Mark Harrison has got the club and supporters believing despite the side losing a number of key players during the off-season.
“This is an important match for us,” said Zvirekwi.
“I think we have to start positively, we have to start on a high for us to shape our season. Winning such a game will always be a morale booster going into the next matches.
“Whawha are not an unknown team as such.
“I think they did well to come into the Premier League. They earned their right to play at this level so we give them their respect.”
Makepekepe got a big boost in their preparations this week when they welcomed to full fitness some of their players like Rodreck Mutuma, Moses Muchenje, Leonard Fiyado and Gerald Phiri who were rested for last week’s final pre-season match when the team lost 2-1 to rivals Dynamos in the ZNA Commanders Charity shield.
But there were still doubts over the availability of Takudzwa Mahori and Stephen Makatuka.
Makepekepe compensated for their late start to the pre-season by playing a number of high profile matches, which included three derbies against Dynamos and one match against Highlanders.
This will give them an edge over their opponents in terms of match fitness.
Besides the fact that Whawha are coached by former Zimbabwe international Luke Petros, while former Dynamos midfielder Lloyd Mutasa has joined them to add Premiership experience as technical advisor, not much is known about the newboys.
Mutasa said they deliberately avoided going the usual route of beefing up with players with Premiership experience and they are hoping to confound their more established rivals with the unknowns.
Whawha are led on the pitch by their skipper Blessing Chikwekwete while a number of players who helped them gain promotion like Sylvester Nhamo, Takudzwa Chikulile, Albert Matewu and forgotten Dynamos goalkeeper Matthew Urayayi were given a vote of confidence to continue at the big stage.
The other experienced players in their team are ex-Shabanie Mine forward Caleb Masocha and Michael Mageja.
“We know the challenge that is on our hands but that is the reason we have been bracing ourselves all along,” said Mutasa.
“Being Whawha and coming from Division One, I believe it can only be tough in the Premiership but we are not scared of anyone.
“We are ready, the youngsters are really itching to play especially against such teams as CAPS United who are one of the biggest sides in the country.
“We believe we have done enough preparations but as a team playing their first Premiership game, this will definitely give us an idea of where we stand.
“It will be important to collect three points in the first game at home. We would want to give our supporters reason to have faith in the team.
“We have no household names in the side. The majority of them have played for unknown teams and I tell you very soon you will be able to identify with some of the players because I believe they are good for the Premiership,” said Mutasa.