CAPS United have gone through a difficult 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season, where they barely challenged for the league title and will finish in a disappointing mid-table position.
BY GARISH PHIRI
The Green Machine have escaped criticism despite their troubles, but this week, temperatures boiled over when they lost their third match in as many games, with fans venting their anger.
Coach Lloyd Chitembwe had to take matters into his own hands and issued a personal apology following a 2-1 defeat to Yadah Stars on Wednesday.
That apology cooled things, but one feels it will be only a temporary reprieve if the Green Machine fail in their last hope of turning a mediocre season into a fruitful one in the Chibuku Super Cup, where they face Harare City in the semi-finals this afternoon.
The Green Machine faithful will demand that their club at least wins this competition so that they have something to brag about.
Their match against Harare City will come down as one of the most important that they have played this campaign as they seek to breathe life into their campaign.
Caps United have had conversion problems upfront, where they have been struggling for goals, particularly in the second half of the season.
This is one area that they will have to fix in today’s match if they are to upstage Mark Harisson’s side, which is looking to defend their title.
Chitembwe admitted that the team’s struggles had been at the point of the attack and promised to fix those problems next season.
But he knows all too well that the Caps United fans that are expected to throng Rufaro Stadium this afternoon will be expecting an immediate turn-around.
The championship-winning coach has tried so many strategies this season, including playing Milton Ncube as a striker.
He also played around with several combinations upfront, where he has shuffled John Zhuwau, Wisdom Mutasa, Brian Muzondiwa and Mitchelle Katsvairo, but he has found little joy.
In this competition, Caps United have played two matches and in those 180 minutes, they have drawn blanks, only succeeding via the penalty shoot out on both occasions.
They know they can continue relying on that path, but they will need to start scoring if they are to win this competition.
“We had time to correct a lot of things. We have three league games remaining and the Chibuku Super Cup semi-final. Everyone wants to participate on a grand stage and in this case, I think the Chibuku semi-final is a grand stage for us,” Chitembwe said.
It will be interesting which tactics Chitembwe will use in order to get the best out of the team’s attack combination.
Harisson, on the other hand, has not had the problems that Chitembwe has faced.
He will be looking to see his team dominate possession, as they usually do, but they know they will have to be careful playing out from the back against a hungry Caps United side.
“We are well prepared for this game. It’s been a hectic week as we had two games, but we are prepared. We trained (yesterday) in the morning. It’s not going to be easy because they will come highly competitive going in to this cup semifinal. There might be one or two changes in our squad, but we will be as strong as we can be,” he said.
Harrison’s men are the most successful team in the competition, having won it twice since its re-introduction in 2014.
Unlike Caps United, they will be playing without the baggage of expectation.
Apart from the $75 000 cheque, winners of the Chibuku Super Cup will represent the country in the Caf Confederations Cup next year.