Paul Mundandi Sports Reporter
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe is confident the Green Machine will retain their Castle Lager Premier League title this season despite his camp hitting a patch of turbulence yesterday after a row over bonuses resulted in players choosing not to train.
The players, who were paid $400 each on Tuesday for capturing the ZNA Charities Shield, were demanding to be paid their stake from the club’s qualification for the CAF Champions League group stages.
CAPS United leaders struck a deal with the players to give them $500 each should they beat Lioli of Lesotho and another $500 should they beat TP Mazembe, with the players then set to share about $160 000 from proceeds of the club’s qualification into the group stages.
However, the Green Machine leaders are yet to honour the bonus payments for the victories over Lioli and TP Mazembe as they battle to raise funds to meet those commitments.
But, in an era where social media can be misleading, the players were told on Monday that the club had received their $550 000 for qualifying for the Champions League group stages and were holding on to the money without paying the players.
The reality is that the payment will only be effected at the end of the campaign.
The players felt their leaders were not being sincere and decided not to train yesterday.
Club president Farai Jere said there was a misunderstanding after his players were fed with wrong information claiming that their Champions League earnings had been transferred into the club’s account, but the case has since been resolved.
“It’s sad that there is a lot of misinformation right now and, sadly, if we are not careful we could end up being victims of our success and that will be tragic given that we are on the right path to greatness as a team and we should always look at the bigger picture,’’ said Jere.
“The players are being bombarded with incorrect information that the club is awash with money, that we have received money from CAF and we simply don’t want to pay them and it’s unfortunate because we have come a long way and we should be looking at creating a dynasty of success.
“There are some people who simply don’t want to see this club being stable, prospering and winning big tournaments and it’s also sad that we are not managing our success as well as we should be.
“The players knew that we will pay their winning bonuses for beating Lioli and TP Mazembe because that is a deal we have with them, there wasn’t a time frame to that payment but they know we will deliver very, very soon but some people have been sending wrong signals that we are awash with money from CAF.
“But as a club we have been telling our boys that we are even considering paying them the big chunk we agreed with them from the CAF money earlier, getting that money from somewhere, and we are still pursuing that because we are happy with what they have done for this club.’’
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa also confirmed that the CAF proceeds will only come at the end of the year.
“As the ZIFA boss, I can tell you that the money from CAF will come at the end of the year and anyone who is spreading these rumours is not doing a service to this club which has represented our country very well in the Champions League and can even do more in terms of success this year,’’ said Chiyangwa.
CAPS United skipper Moses Muchenje told The Herald that there was a misunderstanding that has now been resolved.
“There was a misunderstanding between us and our officials but that has now been sorted and everything is okay,’’
Defender Dennis Dauda said everything was back to normal.
Coach Chitembwe backed his men to defend the title.
“For us, the 2016 season is over. We are way past it and it’s now only good for the archives. We won the championship and nobody will take that from us.
“What we are going to do in 2017 will be very important.
“Everything is quite good for us, the work and the ethics. We are very happy as a team and we are excited to be in this situation.
“I am relying on four key pillars this season, which include physical fitness and also the mental preparation. I am confident that my players will deliver.
“I am confident that they will remain at the top level and I have been very fortunate that the attitude of my players has been very good.
“This season I have a special team. I see the hunger of success in their eyes. I see the desire to succeed and as coaches we always try to make them remain focused and stimulate the kind of performance that we need.
“I want my players at CAPS United to continuously improve and they must surpass what they achieved last season.
“I know that the teams we beat last season also want to win against us,’’ said Chitembwe