Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter—
LLOYD CHITEMBWE has challenged CAPS United players to transform themselves into Warriors, good and strong enough to play for the country’s senior and junior national teams, if the Green Machine are to trace their footsteps back to the top. On the day he bounced back at the club, where he won three league titles and became CAPS United’s most decorated player in history, as head coach of the Green Machine, Chitembwe told his troops that they needed to aim higher and challenge for national team spots. The former Zimbabwe international, in his first address to his players at their training ground in Harare yesterday afternoon, said he was disappointed that the majority of them did not make the Warriors and Young Warriors’ squads who are on national duty this week.
Chitembwe challenged his men to ask themselves tough questions about their pedigree if they could not be part of more than 50 players who have been called for national duty to represent Zimbabwe teams that are set to plunge into action soon. Six years ago, the Green Machine provided the bulk of the players who were in the home-based Warriors squad which won the 2009 Cosafa Cup under the captaincy of Method Mwanjali, one of those CAPS United players who were at their training ground in Harare yesterday.
Mwanjali is unable to feature for the Green Machine, despite returning to the club, until the beginning of next season because CAPS United had filled all their slots by the time they signed a deal with their former skipper to join them after his six-year adventure in South Africa. Chitembwe was the last CAPS United coach to beat bitter rivals DeMbare in a league match on that Easter Monday, in April 2009, when Nyasha Mushekwi — who is part of the Warriors for the 2017 Nations Cup qualifier against Guinea at Rufaro on Sunday — scored a double in a 2-0 victory.
“We have two national teams that have been called up, about 60 players, and you should be asking yourselves why you are not part of those teams because playing for the national teams means that you are good and that should be your aim as players,” Chitembwe told his men. “I am not here to teach you football, you all know how to play the game, but I am here to try and help you improve in certain areas, to try and make you better players so that we can get the results that we all want.
“It’s good to be back but what is important is the team and we hope that if we can work together we can produce the results that we all want. “There is always pressure in football, since my playing days, so it is not any different this time.” Chitembwe will be in charge of the team on an interim basis, until the end of the season, although he can win himself a permanent job, as head coach of the Green Machine, if he impresses during the last nine league games. Mark Mathe, who has been the caretaker head coach since Mark Harrison left the club in a huff, reverts to his old role as assistant coach, Fungai “Tostao” Kwashi is also one of the assistant coaches while Brenna Msiska retained his position as goalkeepers’ coach.
Yesterday morning, club president Farai Jere, club chairman Lewis Uriri, board members Mordecai Sachikonye, Abraham Kawadza and Alois Bunjira and the technical team held a meeting in the capital were the changes were effected. Uriri, the respected lawyer who described Chitembwe as “an illustrious son of CAPS United,” emerged from that meeting to address a press conference and said they had decided to have continuity in the team by retaining the other technical staff members.
“We are CAPS United. We are not CAPS Rovers. We are not CAPS FC. We are a united outfit and we believe in continuity and we have got a very well articulated three-year strategic plan that we believe would bring results to the CAPS United family,” he said. “And, as a united family that believes in continuity and believes in results, we are moving forward with that in mind.
“We have not been playing badly, it’s only that results have not been coming our way, we would want to try and get the results. “We have carefully considered where we have come from and where we are going and we have come to the decision that for the next nine games, and that is taking us to the 31st of December 2015, the technical bench as presently constituted, will continue but with one change, one of illustrious sons Lloyd Chitembwe, comes in as the head coach, and is head coach on an interim basis and we reiterate that up to the 31st December, and the position is very clear, if results do not come then the whole of the technical department are leaving.
“So we are looking for results and we remain committed to a top four finish. And when I say a top four finish I am not excluding the top post, let me reiterate that the number one is the top spot and we look forward to good results.” Mathe pledged his support to Chitembwe. “I will call a spade a spade, Chitembwe is more experienced than me. What I am happy with is that Lloyd has already done his own investigations and analysis and is comfortable to working with me.
“I asked the president ‘Is Mr Chitembwe comfortable to work with me?’ and he said he has already done his own investigations and he is happy to work with me and it shows he is a very intelligent person who had done his research well, so, I am comfortable and I am going to give him maximum support going forward,” said Mathe.
CAPS United president, Jere, dismissed the myth that his team was a victim of supernatural elements and challenged the players to respect the institution that they were working for, its history and the fans who always back them. “There is this myth that we can’t score because of this and that and I have made my analysis and found out that we just failed to score, in recent games, in that one match against Dongo Sawmill, so that means it’s not true that we are cursed when it comes to scoring,” said Jere.
“What I have observed is that when we score, we can’t stop the opposition from scoring against us, and that is the reason why we have not won the games that we should have won while our main rivals have been winning 1-0, scoring in the last minute, and progressing. “So, we have brought Lloyd because we believe that when Mark Harrison left, we were left with just one specialist coach for the outfield players, Brenna is the goalkeepers’ coach and he is doing well, his player is in the national team, while Tostao is learning the ropes.
“We should have boosted our technical team by bringing in someone to help Mathe and we left him with a huge load. I’m happy that Lloyd is back because the last time that we brought him, he won eight straight games and we are challenging him to do that again and see where we end up in the season. “We owe it to our fans to make one final good run because they have been fully supportive of us, in very challenging times, and let’s do it for them.”