Grace Chingoma in HARARE and Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO
CAPS United are in bullish mood going to the Battle of the Cities showdown against Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow, with the Green Machine saying they are in good shape for a victory.
Coach Lloyd Chitembwe feels they have the pressure, given they have not done very well at home, and their fans want them to beat a Bosso side they defeated in their backyard in the City of Kings in the reverse fixture.
“The pressure that we have is healthy in the sense that it is within us, having our own pressure just to try and do well for ourselves and that is quite healthy and only augurs well for the ambition of the football team and our own ambitions,” said Chitembwe.
Chitembwe believes everyone is playing his part at the club and there is unity of purpose with the gaffer believing that CAPS United are in the right direction to be successful soon.
The coach brought his assistant Mark Mathe, skipper Moses Muchenje and goalkeeper Jorum Muchambo, to his weekly press conference to demonstrate the unity in their camp.
There have been some social media reports that Chitembwe and Mathe have fallen out but the two showed that was all rubbish as they shared jokes and addressed the media.
Mathe, who was briefly in charge of Highlanders last year following the departure of Kelvin Kaindu, believes he knows his former team and this could help the Green Machine tomorrow.
Skipper Muchenje says they are ready for the game.
“It is a bit of two giants playing, I don’t think the approach needs to be a different one from the other matches,” said Muchenje.
“We are playing a big game, there is not much to change, the approach should just be the same.”
CAPS United are yet to concede a goal since Chitembwe took over as head coach and beat Hwange 1-0 at the Colliery in their last match.
Highlanders will be without their vice-captain Erick “Tsiba” Mudzingwa when they face the former champions in tomorrow’s game as the defender is down with a stomach bug.
Caretaker coach Amini Soma-Phiri continues with his rescue mission for the crest-fallen Bulawayo giants who sit in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar 10th position on the table.
Bosso have been boosted by the return of the trio of defender Teenage Hadebe, midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku and leading gunman Knox Mutizwa who were with the Young Warriors in Congo for the African Games.
There is also a huge chance that Soma-Phiri could throw in Ralph “Banolila” Matema although his match fitness levels might betray him.
Matema was part of the Highlanders team that handed a then trailblazing CAPS United team their only defeat of the season in 2004 when Tapuwa Kapini scored a wonder goal that beat Witness Munkuli, in goals for Makepekepe, from a free-kick in a high-scoring tie.
“Tsiba is definitely out of the game, he has a stomach bug that started early in this week and I thought he will recover but he has not,” said Soma-Phiri.
The former Highlanders manager said he was also assessing Douglas Sibanda, Rahman Kutsanzira and King Nadolo but was happy with the arrival of the Young Warriors trio, particularly Mutizwa.
“Knox will be a big boost for us, he is in form and his presence is a huge plus for us,” said Soma-Phiri.
He said preparations for the match went on well and everyone was focused ahead of the clash.
Amahlolanyama picked up maximum points in their last league match against lowly Flame Lily, whom they beat 1-0 through a moment of individual brilliance from midfielder Simon Munawa.
No major changes are expected in the team with Ariel Sibanda set to guard the goal posts, Bruce Kangwa on the left back position and young Peter Muduhwa, brilliant since his full senior team debut, on the right back position.
Felix Chindungwe, in the absence of Mudzingwa, will be partnered by Hadebe in central defence with midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa keeping his place just infront of the central defence.
The technical team could be spoilt for choice upfront as all the strikers – Obadiah Tarumbwa, Gabriel Nyoni, Mutizwa and Matema – are available for selection.
There is a likelihood that Soma-Phiri might drop Nyoni for Mutizwa.
Elsewhere, this afternoon at Rufaro, Flame Lily, seeking to survive relegation, host ZPC Kariba in an earlier clash in the double-header which will be broadcast on SuperSport.
The prisoners take on the Kariba side in an early kick-off at 1pm before Harare City play Triangle at 3pm.
Saturday: Tsholotsho v FC Platinum (Luveve), Flame Lily v ZPC Kariba (Rufaro, 1pm), Harare City v Triangle (Rufaro, 3pm), Chapungu v Buffaloes (Ascot).
Tomorrow: CAPS United v Highlanders (National Sports Stadium), Whawha v How Mine (Ascot),Dongo Sawmill v Hwange (Vengere), Chicken Inn v Dynamos (Barbourfields).