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Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
CAPS United will be hoping for third time luck against Egyptian opposition when they fly out to Cairo this afternoon for a blockbuster clash against giants Zamalek in a Champions League Group B clash in Alexandria on Friday night.
The Green Machine stepped up their preparations this week and had their final training session at home, a one-hour workout under the floodlights at the National Sports Stadium last night.
AS CAPS leave, Nigerian striker Abasirim Chidiebere was scheduled to arrive in the country today to try his luck at the Green Machine.
Chidiebere left Nigeria yesterday and will become the second West African forward to arrive at Makepekepe in the past four days.
There have been rare meetings in continental football between CAPS United and Egyptian clubs, with the Green Machine having only previously played against Arab Contractors in 1983 and ENPPI in 2009.
On both occasions, CAPS United were competing in the then African Cup winners Cup and in the successor to that tourney — the Confederation Cup.
In their African Cup Winners Cup quarter-final clash against Arab Contractors 34 years ago, the CAPS United team, which included skipper Joel Shampoo, Friday Phiri, Ernest Sibanda, Duncan Ellison, Shelton Mangwende, Size Torindo, Tobias Moyo Stanford “Stix’’ M’tizwa and Charles Sibanda won 2-1 at Rufaro but lost 2-0 in Cairo.
During that era, Arab Contractors were a force on the continent and they had great players who included legendary Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph Antoine Belle, Ghanaian Abdelrazaq Kareem and the pair of Alaa Nabil and Naser Ali.
Ironically, Arab Contractors fell 2-1 to Zamalek in a league match last weekend in a game which the White Knights were using to fine-tune for their match against Makepekepe.
Then, as now, CAPS United had begun their African safari with an assignment against a Lesotho club — KMKM FC, which they comprehensively won 7-2 on aggregate in the first round.
Manager/coach Bob Lines and his men were also ruthless in the second round, crashing Al Ahli Wad Madani of Sudan 7-0 on aggregate, with the result being anchored on a 2-0 triumph in the first leg away and a 5-0 victory at Rufaro.
CAPS United then fell to 3-2 to Arab Contractors in the last eight stage, with the Egyptians progressing to win the competition with a 1-0 success over Togolese side OC Agaza, for what was their second title in the tournament.
There was to be no meeting between CAPS United and any Egyptian opponent until April 2009, when current coach Lloyd Chitembwe led his charges in a Confederation Cup first round tie against ENPPI at Petrosport Stadium in Cairo.
The first leg at Rufaro ended in a 0-0 stalemate and a gallant CAPS United came within 13 minutes of posting their first win on Egyptian soil, until a blunder by Oscar Machapa gifted the hosts with a chance to take the lead for the second time and seal their win.
Striker Limited Chikafa had given CAPS United a chance to send the Egyptians reeling out on the away goals rule when he levelled for the Green Machine with a well struck volley in the 69th minute.
Chikafa, and many others who featured for Makepekepe including Method Mwanjali, Clive Mwale, Gilbert Mapemba, Tendai Gwata and Machapa have long since left CAPS United.
But big goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, who had a stellar show on that night of April 3 in 2009 in Cairo, is still available.
Winger Tafadzwa Rusike is also still around and will make the travelling party today.
There were fitness concerns though for the slippery Rusike but the winger, who has also seen international club duty with Ajax Cape Town, is still part of the 18-man side.
On Friday night Chitembwe, who saw his charges defy odds to hold fancied TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will throw into battle a new class of Green Machine stars.
That CAPS United have twice come perilously close to securing a result on their previous two visits to Egypt will give Chitembwe’s men confidence as they travel today for their latest battle.
Edmore Sibanda, Jorum Muchambo, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Valentine Musarurwa, Devon Chafa, Justice Jangano, Kudzanai Nyamupfukudza, Carlton Mudzambwa, Moses Muchenje, Dominic Chungwa, Phineas Bhamusi, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Tafadzwa Rusike, Abbas Amidu, Cabby Kamhapa, Dennis Dauda, Joel Ngodzo.