Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
A FRESH breeze has blown into the CAPS United camp after the two shareholders, Twine Phiri and Farai Jere, met in Harare yesterday and agreed to thrash out a rescue package to save Zimbabwe’s third biggest football franchise.
The Green Machine have been struggling all season, weighed down by a mountain of debt and financial challenges, and there were even fears that the Harare giants could crumble this year before the end of the season.
A number of key players like striker Rodreck Mutuma and the pair of Stephen Makatuka and Dominic Mukandi have in the past few weeks walked out on CAPS United, overwhelmed by the challenges that are facing the team.
But yesterday the club’s shareholders met in Harare and agreed on a new deal that will see fresh capital being injected into the club and the players, who had ditched the team, being brought back into the fold.
The meeting followed another indaba held in Harare earlier this week attended by former board members Lewis Uriri and Nhamo Tutisani, where the club’s plight was put into focus.
Uriri, a leading Harare lawyer, and Tutisani have applied to the High Court for CAPS United to be liquidated.
But things took a dramatic twist yesterday when Jere and Phiri, who have been part of the Green Machine leadership in the past decade, met in Harare and agreed on a deal that will not only save the club, but ensure that it battles for honours again this season.
Finer details of the meeting were not immediately available, but The Herald can reveal that from next week there will be a fresh injection of capital into the Green Machine.
The two shareholders also met with CAPS United coach Mark Harrison last night and advised him of the deal and how it was going to improve the welfare of his technical team and players once the necessary documents have been signed.
“All I can confirm at the moment is that we have found a way forward that will help the club and we want to take this opportunity to thank those who remained committed to everything that CAPS United represents during the tough times that we endured recently,” Phiri told The Herald.
“We sat with my partner Farai and looked at a range of issues and the challenges that the club is facing and how we can get out of the hole that we are in, taking into consideration that this is a club that has a rich history and should not be left to collapse.
“It was a very frank discussion and I am happy to announce to the CAPS United family, and this includes our players, technical team and supporters, that we have reached a deal that will see things change dramatically at the club very soon.
“Everything that was agreed upon was in the best interest of the club, and not individuals, because as partners we know that this club is bigger than the two of us and we owe it to those people who made CAPS United great all these years to ensure that it does not collapse.
“I cannot release the finer details of the agreement now, but I can promise everyone associated with CAPS United that we are not going to sink and there will be a new operating environment for the players and the technical team from next week.”
Jere confirmed that an agreement, which will stabilise CAPS United, had been reached.
“I can confirm that an agreement has been reached to stabilise our club and, going forward, from now onwards things won’t be the same because there is a commitment to ensure that we improve everything that this iconic brand represents,” said Jere.
“In due course, at the appropriate time, those who are supposed to issue the details will tell the public about what has happened, but we are all thrilled that we have put our heads together to ensure that this big brand does not fall.”
The agreement, sources said, also takes care of the Green Machine debt and boosts the welfare of the players and the technical staff.
CAPS United will battle bottom-of-the-table side Dongo Sawmill tomorrow at Vengere in Rusape and while the immediate dividends of the landmark agreement might not be seen on the field, it’s very likely that it won’t be business as usual at the Green Machine from next week.
Harrison is set to travel with a severely depleted side in the absence of Malawian midfielder Gerald Phiri, skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Pfumbidzai and the pair of Makatuka and Mukandi.
This would mean the entire first team backline is missing, save for centre-back Carlton Munzabwa, who is struggling for full fitness.
In the absence of Pfumbidzayi and Mukandi, CAPS United could field youthful Romerio Mutova at left-back, while another rookie Valentine Musarurwa will operate at right-back as replacement for Zvirekwi.
George Nyirenda, who has been thriving as defensive link, could also be pulled back to provide cover in central defence.
“I don’t know what my team will be on Sunday. We have to sit down together with the technical bench to try and come up with a plan. It looks like we are going to Dongo with a very lightweight squad, very young and inexperienced,” said Harrison.
“Our squad has been stripped down to the bone, but physical fitness-wise we are fine. Obviously, there could be some players who will play there who haven’t had a great deal of game time.
“So, that could become a problem in the latter stages of the game, but that is my job to manage that. But whatever we do, we will go there with a positive attitude and try to win the game and get three points.”
The Green Machine are coming from a disappointing 0-2 home defeat at the hands of Chapungu, which saw them dropping to 10th place on the log standings.
“I have spoken a great deal about the defeat to Chapungu and we are trying to move away from it. We need to focus on the game ahead than the one behind,” said Harrison.
“It’s not going to be easy down there because they (Dongo) are fighting for their lives already and I believe the field there is not very conducive to good football. So, we might have to change our game plan to accommodate the field and to accommodate the opposition.”
But can the newboys take advantage of the problems rocking the CAPS United camp and claim their first scalp?
Dongo Sawmill coach Shadreck Magurasave said they are approaching the game with a positive mind.
Dongo Sawmill have a clean bill of health, but they will miss skipper Evans Chikwaikwa,i who is suspended this week for accumulating three yellow cards.
“The captain doesn’t play alone. We are a team and I believe we have equally talented players who can take his place. I believe we are intact, but it’s up to whoever is selected to prove himself.
“There are no special games for us. Whether we play CAPS United or Tsholotsho the thrust is just the same. We aim for three points.
“I have always preached to my players that it’s high time we should start collecting maximum points because there will be more pressure on us if we continue like this into the second round of matches. So, we always play with that in mind, but God always has the final say,” said Magurasave.