Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe has slammed critics who are questioning his side’s potency to defend their Castle Lager Premiership title.
The Green Machine got their campaign off with a goalless draw against Shabanie Mine and host Harare City at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Chitembwe says he has confidence in his attacking players like Dominic Chungwa, Abbas Amidu, former Harare City midfielder Ronald Chitiyo, Phineas Bamusi and Golden Boot winner Leonard Tsipa.
“I am sure we are probably more coordinated in terms of the way we play.
“I am sure we have had a much longer preparation phase, so just that in itself has brought about the coordination that we want in the team,” said Chitembwe.
“We are happy everyone understands one another, that’s more important for us. I have told my players that we just have to make sure that we are better than we were last season and I am happy with their response.
“They have responded very positively and if I’m to look at their application at training, it leaves me satisfied that they still want to improve.
“For me that’s very key, I am happy with that.
“I’m sure you saw when we played those other teams — Lioli, TP Mazembe, Dynamos at home and Highlanders away in the ZNA Charities — the application was excellent.
“You see, you can’t really blame them for not winning against Shabanie in a very bad pitch.
“But if you ask me what lessons I got from winning the league last year, it’s very clear you can win the league even if you are not leaders from Week One up until the later stages of the race. These are lessons and the other lesson is that you can be leaders and fail to win the league. This is very possible.”
Makepekepe are coming up against a Harare City side that is also on the prowl for a first win this season.
Their former midfielder Tendai Samanja, who is now turning out for Harare City, said they are not intimidated by CAPS United’s form.
The experienced midfielder has targeted to resuscitate his career with the Sunshine Boys this year after playing a peripheral role in the previous campaign under Moses Chunga.
“We are preparing, everyone is ready, everyone is working hard, everyone wants to play that game, especially myself,” said Samanja.
“I don’t have anything to say about CAPS United.
“I am now concentrating on Harare City because that’s where I am now. I have to continue working hard to keep on playing.
“But CAPS United are just like any other team in the Premiership, so I don’t have any pressure on this game. It’s only that this year I didn’t get to see much about them.
“I have only heard people saying they are good.
“They are last season’s champions, not this season. This is a different year altogether and I can take this game like we are playing Tsholotsho because Tsholotsho are in the Premiership and CAPS United are in the Premiership league as well, so they are the same,” said Samanja.
Their coach Mike Madzivanyika, who was recently elevated to replace Mkhuphali Masuku, said they aim to collect maximum points.
The Sunshine Boys have beefed up their squad and Madzivanyika is happy with how the likes of Malvin Gaki, Pritchard Mpelele and Protash Kabwe are fitting into his philosophy of play.
“We are working on combinations with the new players and they are doing well.
“Last week we didn’t do well, especially in the first half, so we have been doing the practices.
The only way we can win a match is by scoring goals and we are working on it,” said Madzivanyika.