BY HENRY MHARA
LLOYD Chitembwe will be facing Caps United for the first time since crossing the floor to rivals Harare City last month and claims he still retains “respect” for the Harare giants and its supporters.
The two clubs clash at Rufaro Stadium tomorrow in a midweek Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match, with Chitembwe declaring that he still has a special attachment with the club he played for and coached.
Although he admitted that the match will be an emotional occasion for him, he was quick to point out that he will give his best for his new paymasters.
“It is an emotional game for me,” Chitembwe said. “Personally, it’s a happy emotion in the sense that Caps is one club where I managed to achieve so much. It has given me the opportunity and platform to show what I’m capable of, from both facets of the game which is playing as well as coaching.”
Chitembwe has a legendary status at Caps, a club he played for and won the title with in 1996. He was also part of the Green Machine’s all-conquering squad which clinched back-to-back titles during the 2004 and 2005 soccer seasons.
He went on to coach the club, helping it to win the championship in 2016 and reaching, for the first time, the group stage of the Caf Champions League in the following season.
“It (Caps) has given me so much and so I’m very grateful to the club and I had some special moments with those players, especially those who are there now. I also had some special moments with the fans; I respect them so much and they are probably the reason why I have come this far in my career,” Chitembwe said.
The former Caps midfield maestro, dumped the Green Machine last month and joined Harare City, together with his backroom staff who included assistants Nelson Matongorere and Fungai Kwashi.
Asked on the sort of reception that he expects to get from United fans, Chitembwe was diplomatic.
“It’s not for me to judge or make a conclusion on that (reception). I don’t think that’s an important issue. For me, the most important thing is to go out there and play with the sense of responsibility that we have always wanted, more especially against Caps. We want to make sure we go out there and play with our target in mind. This is what it will be about. It’s not about what people think of me because at the end of the day I have made a decision (of leaving Caps) and I have since moved on so it’s important for me to concentrate on my (new) job.”
Chitembwe had a smooth sailing start at his new job where he has been given a target to avoid relegation, winning two matches on the trot against Highlanders and Chapungu before losing to Black Rhinos in the last match.
“I have a duty and a special responsibility that I carry now as Harare City coach and I’m looking forward to it. I’m very appreciative of the (Harare City) football club, because they have shown so much appreciation for my work so far. I’m happy and I believe we have a very good group of players. The group is very special in the sense that they are very coachable. The sky is the limit. We want to try and achieve what we have set our sights on, especially this season. We want to try and avoid the drop and I certainly believe it’s within reach,” Chitembwe said.
Harare City will be without three of their key players as they seek to recover from their defeat against Rhinos: Captain Marshal Machazane is out due to personal reasons. Midfielder Moses Muchenje is suspended after accumulating three yellow cards, while winger Ishmael Wadi was shown a red card against Rhinos and will serve a one-match ban.
But Chitembwe believes he has enough cover.