LLOYD Chitembwe won the battle of wits against his Harare City counterpart Mike Madzivanyika with his second-half substitutes swinging the pendulum in favour of the champions who finished this Castle Lager Premiership derby with 10 men at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Makepekepe needed a late winner from Ronald Pfumbidzai, who capitalised on the Sunshine Boys’ sloppy defending after Jerry Chipangura had cancelled out substitute Tafadzwa Rusike’s opener.
Nonetheless, Chitembwe was elated that the win not only broke the goal duck for the defending champions but it also brought their campaign back on the right path after they had opened the season with a share of the spoils away at Shabanie Mine last week.
Going into the match yesterday, Makepekepe’s potency in front of goal was under the spotlight.
The Green Machine enjoyed much of the possession with Abbas Amidu and Ronald Chitiyo, who were given the responsibility of shoring up striker Dominic Chungwa, the most visible but they could not get it right in the final third.
With one rare chance coming nearly half an hour into the game, Amidu almost opened the scoring but was denied by the foot of the post after unleashing a powerful grounder from a distance.
Coach Chitembwe sensed he needed some movement going forward and was spot on when he brought in Rusike and Joel Ngodzo but the latter could not last the match after he was shown a straight red card by referee Norman Matemera midway through the second period.
Chitembwe praised the spirit exhibited by his charges despite finishing a man down and the former Zimbabwe midfielder was particularly impressed by the effect of his substitutions as Makepekepe appeared to have raised the momentum in the second half to maintain their dominance at the giant facility where they have not lost a league match since his return to the club in September 2015.
Newboy James Nguluve, who could replace undecided forward Simba Nhivi, was also given a run and showed glimpses of brilliance.
“We are happy we got the result that we wanted. There is great character within the group and that’s the mark of greatness in the team. You know, we are one man less but we still go on and get a result that we so desired. I think it’s a sign of greatness.
“Moses (Muchenje) and Chitiyo, I’m sure they didn’t give us the mobility that we wanted in midfield and we thought maybe Fire (Rusike) was going to give us that kind of mobility as well as Josta (Ngodzo).
“They were obviously going to give us the right kind of balance in terms of distribution as well as making sure we retain possession.
“So (winning at home) it’s a great feeling. It’s good to continue with the good work but obviously the challenge is still huge. We still have more than 15 or so games to play at home. That’s the challenge, we want to continue with the good work. But it’s never going to be easy,” said Chitembwe.
Barely five minutes after the half-time double substitution, Makepekepe were celebrating when Rusike finished a good build-up with a fine curling shot that proved too much for veteran goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu as it sailed into the roof of the nets.
But the anti-climax for the hosts was when Ngodzo was sent for an early shower following a crude tackle on James Jamu in what appeared a harsh decision by the referee who also dished out five cautions in the match.
But the sunshine lasted less than two minutes for City as Pfumbidzai was on hand to restore the CAPS United lead from a free-kick by Cabby Kamhapa. Denis Dauda headed the ball back in play and the roving full-back rushed in to beat the exposed goalkeeper from point blank.
Chitembwe was still satisfied despite his team earning most of the cards doled out yesterday.
Harare City coach Madzivanyika was disappointed by the lack of concentration late in the game as they failed to hold on for at least a crucial point against the champions.
“We lacked concentration from that free-kick. We took too long to organise in defence and allowed the opponents to score. I think if we had put in a little bit extra into this game the result would have been different,” said Madziva- nyika.
CAPS United now have four points from two starts while the Sunshine Boys are still winless and have a point from last week’s stalemate against newboys Yadah Stars.