A PORTAL to a happier past opened for Harare giants Caps United, as they launched their championship bid with a comprehensive defeat of bogey side Chapungu in a Castle Lager Premiership season opener at the National Sports Stadium yesterday. BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
From left: Caps United players Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Dominic Chungwa and Joel Ngodzo celebrate a goal during a Castle Lager Premier League soccer match played at National Sports Stadium
With the victory coming 24 hours after their bitter city rivals Dynamos were handed a 3-0 defeat by defending champions Chicken Inn at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday, the future for Caps looks bright.
It didn’t matter that they were missing the services of fowards Leonard Tsipa and Simba Nhivi through injury.
It might not have been the best of performances by Lloyd Chitembwe’s side, but they were clinical in front of goal, which made the difference against the airforce side, who had given them problems in the past.
Joel Ngodzo opened the scoring on 37 minutes, before Tafadzwa Rusike added the second three minutes later, with vice-captain, Moses Muchenje putting the icing on the cake with the third.
Last year, Caps were beaten in both league matches by the John Nyikadzino-coached side, but Chitembwe — appointed as coach towards the end of last season — halted that poor run yesterday with a performance that gave their fans a glimpse of what to expect this season.
After struggling for fluency in the first quarter, in which Chapungu dominated the game and threatened with some dangerous raids through stocky forward Allan Tavarwisa and Nhlahla Ncube, Caps sprung to life.
But veteran, Gift Phiri, who anchored Chapungu’s midfield, came close on 31 minutes with a speculative long-range drive, which narrowly missed the target much to the relief of Caps.
The Harare side, continued to probe, with Dominic Chungwa coming close on 36 minutes.
The heavens then opened just before the restart and when the game eventually resumed, the rains appeared to make play difficult for both teams, as players struggled for balance.
Chapungu made a double substitution in the 46th minute, introducing Patrick Khumbula for Allan Tavarwisa and Maxwell Mavhuto for Cleophas Kapupurika, and moments later, substituting Agrippa Peperere.
That, however, failed to stop the Green Machine from recording a comfortable victory, as Muchenje sealed Caps’ victory.
“As far as the result is concerned, we are very happy. It has just reminded us of what we are likely to achieve and we need to continue working hard, giving as much effort as we can,” Chitembwe said.
“We were not so clinical in terms of performance, but in terms of goals and to grind out a result like this, we need to keep working hard. It was a good start. There is no team that can dominate the entire match and I think Chapungu made life difficult for us in the first quarter, but at the end of the day, we were very decisive at crucial moments of the game.”
Chapungu coach, Nyikadzino said: “We lost to a better side. Caps United played better than us in terms of utilising the chances that came their way. We dominated play in the first 20 minutes. We got quite a number of chances and failed to utilise those chances and when Caps United were in control, they utilised theirs and they managed to punish us.
“There was lapse of concentration. That is how we lost the match. However, it is the first game of the season. We look forward to the next game against Hwange and we look forward to playing better than we did today and come up with three points.”
Teams: J Muchambo, H Zvirekwi, R Pfumbidzai, J Jangano, S Makatuka, K Nyamupfukudza, M Muchenje, P Bhamusi, T Rusike (M Mwanjali), J Ngodzo, D Chungwa
Chapungu: R Mazingi, J Mukombwe, H Mugoniwa, B Zabula, B Mbavarira, G Phiri, N Murisa, C Kapupurika (M Mavhuto 56th), N Ncube, R Mhlanga ( A Peperere 46th), A Tavarwisa (P Khumbula 56th min)