Petros Kausiyo in ALEXANDRIA, Egypt
SERIOUS friction is brewing between CAPS United and the Premier Soccer League with the champions once again expressing outrage at the decision to complicate matters with a congested fixture programme in which they will end up playing four games inside a fortnight. CAPS United are here for a Champions League encounter against Zamalek tonight. But coach Lloyd Chitembwe and club chief executive Cuthbert Chitima have once again challenged the PSL to review the fixtures they have arranged for CAPS United, which the Green Machine believe will impact negatively on their bid to be at their best when they host USM Alger of Algeria in their next Champions League assignment on May 24.
Chitembwe said he had been left a frustrated man after their pleas to have the PSL adjust their fixtures and allow them to first complete their Champions League assignment before playing catch up on the domestic front were turned down.
The coach, who is expected to return home with his charges on Sunday, will head to Kariba for a date against ZPC Kariba at Nyamhunga on Thursday.
CAPS United will proceed to Bulawayo from Kariba where they will face 2015 champions Chicken Inn next Sunday after which they will then return to Harare to host the Algerians in a rare midweek Champions League fixture against USM Alger.
Both Chitembwe and Chitima said although they were aware that CAPS United would have to play more games than the rest of the clubs in the Premiership, due to their Champions League commitments, it was both the timing and the venues for the games which had left them crying foul.
Chitembwe felt the Premiership “ought to have been supporting our cause in the Champions League as we are not only playing for ourselves, but for Zimbabwe.
“We are certainly not happy with the way our next fixtures have been arranged and I have spoken to the management who have been trying to appeal without success to the PSL.
“Before we came to Egypt they wanted us to play Bantu Rovers on Tuesday, a day before we boarded the plane.
“Now when we return home we have only two days, which is essentially a day to prepare for the game against ZPC Kariba on Thursday.
“We are not even returning to Harare after the match in Kariba because we have to go to Bulawayo to play Chicken Inn on Sunday and then return to play USM Alger.
“So when you look at the fixtures I thought people were going to be responsible, but I think we are being made to play a congested fixture, four games in a space of 14 days and at times we wonder if that is not punishment for succeeding.
“Instead of incentivising us so that we can do well and help earn Zimbabwe another Champions League slot we are frustrating the team that is representing the country.
“Exhaustion will obviously come with all the travelling and exhaustion is one of the causes of injuries and to me it’s illogical,’’ Chitembwe said.
Chitima said they had no qualms with playing their outstanding fixtures in midweek, but it was the timing which they were questioning.
“It was not our fault that the league programme started late, but we are saying why put pressure on us to play our outstanding games now why not after we have played the match against USM Alger,’’ Chitima said.
Chitima said the PSL had also turned down their request to register five more players on the local front.
Chitembwe said the congested fixture was also affecting his players who were now suffering from divided attention.
“Everyone wants a piece of the action in the Champions League and now the application from the players is different than when we are playing local game.
“Why not have respect for our international match? We are playing USM Alger in mid-week yet at the weekend we would in Bulawayo.
“A good run by CAPS United will eventually help to earn the country another slot to play Champions League.
“The reason we wanted to register five more players is that we are going to play 60-plus games yet the other teams will play about half that so all we are asking is for the authorities to be considerate and we can always play the outstanding games after Champions League.
“Right now I have players who have a divided attention and we also risk injuries from exhaustion,’’ Chitembwe said.
CAPS United’s next four fixtures (Champions League/PSL):
Tonight: Zamalek v CAPS United (Champions League)
May 18: ZPC Kariba v CAPS United (PSL)
May 21: Chicken Inn v CAPS United (PSL)
May 24: CAPS United v USM Alger (Champions League)