Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER CAPS United skipper Stephen Makatuka says the lure of playing Champions League football has driven him to join Swaziland side Mbabane Swallows.
Makatuka and his ex-Green Machine teammate Cabby Kamhapa signed two- year deals with the reigning Swazi champions after deciding against renewing their contracts with the Harare giants.
The 30-year-old said it was a difficult decision to leave the Harare giants who he won the league title with in 2016 and join the regional minnows.
“I have had mixed feelings. On one hand, I still have the love for CAPS United because it is the only club that I have played serious football for in Zimbabwe.
“CAPS United remains my home. I think I became better after Lloyd Chitembwe’s arrival at CAPS United and through him, I had a championship medal, Soccer Star of the Year finalist and a few caps in national team colours.
“But sometimes when your contract expires you feel like you have to try new challenges and look for better options for the betterment of your family.
“It’s very important I had to move because in football you grow quickly by taking on new challenges. The environment will also inspire you to work even harder because in a foreign land you have to justify your value.
“So the aim is to help the team win titles and maintain their record of playing in the African safari as Swazi representatives,” said Makatuka.
Swallows reached the group stage of the Champions League in the previous campaign but they could not replicate their form in the current edition after slumping to an 8-1 aggregate defeat to Tanzanian giants Simba in the preliminary round.
However, the seven-time Swazi champions are hoping to return to the African safari again next year after making a bright start to the season.
Midfielder Kamhapa is confident the side will afford them the opportunity to play at the highest level again, having tasted continental football with Makepekepe in 2017 and reaching the group stage.
“It’s a good team because almost every year they play Champions League, so it’s an ambition for every serious African player to want to showcase his talent in the competition.
“Our aim is to go back in Africa because we are left with 10 games and we are trailing the log leaders by five points.
“But it’s sad I had to leave such an ambitious club like CAPS United who have a great coach in Lloyd Chitembwe. It’s only that sometimes in life you have to face new challenges. I will miss the great times we had under Chitembwe.
“He was more than a coach to most of us. He was a father, mentor and role model. I will miss him but you know in football you always meet again,” said Kamhapa.