CAPS United vice-captain, Hardlife Zvirekwi has warned his teammates to improve in all areas, saying their performance in the victory over visiting Lioli of Lesotho in the Caf Champions League preliminary round second leg match on Sunday, would not be good enough to beat TP Mazembe in the next stage of the continental football competition.
BY HENRY MHARA
Zvirekwi, who captained the team in the two matches against Lioli in the absence of Moses Muchenje, who was confined to the bench, was happy with the win, but was not entirely satisfied with the performance at the National Sports Stadium.
“We did enough to win and progress to the next stage, but if you look at our next opposition, we need to improve.
We need to dominate more in midfield because most of the games are now determined by how that department performs. They are the engine room and when they perform, every other department does well,” he said.
The Green Machine, who had played to a goalless draw in the first leg in Maseru last week, coasted to a 2-1 victory, thanks to goals from Simba Sithole, who cancelled out Tshepo Seturumane’s strike, before Ronald Chitiyo netted the winner.
Their reward for weekend win is a clash against the Democratic Republic of Congo side in the first round, with the first leg set for Kinshasa on the weekend of March 10 to 12 before the reverse fixture in Harare seven days later.
The winners will progress to the group stage, which would be a first for Caps United, while the well-resourced TP Mazembe reach that stage on a regular basis.
Coach Lloyd Chitembwe started with both Chitiyo and the returning Joel Ngodzo in a five-man midfield, with the latter playing deep alongside Devon Chafa.
Phineas Bhamusi and Tafadzwa Rusike operated from wide areas and Chitiyo just behind lone striker Sithole.
But despite Chitembwe congesting the midfield, Lioli dominated the area with, Ngodzo and Rusike struggling with their game.
“We made a lot of mistakes defensively and offensively. We were lucky not to be punished. But against a team like TP Mazembe, we can’t afford to do the same. Against a good opponent, one mistake can be very costly, so we need to minimise them. Even ourselves, we should be able to maximise on the mistakes our opponents make,” Zvirekwi said.
“We created good chances in the match and we should have scored more. The good thing is we are creating chances and the strikers are getting into scoring positions. We can improve from there. Defensively, we have to be solid as well. We shouldn’t concede many goals, even just one, it could be costly at this level of competition.”
Zvirekwi admitted they have a huge ask against Mazembe, the current holders of the Caf Confederations Cup, but not one they cannot overcome.
“They are a very formidable side, one of African powerhouses. They have the experience, exposure as well as resources. We have to respect them, but we also want to make history for ourselves. We will not make it easy for them,” he said.
Caps played in front of largely muted home support that only found their voice after Chitiyo’s winner.
“I can understand their response, they expected more from us. But they should understand we are coming from pre-season, and we will improve gradually. I also want to urge all the football fans, not just Caps United supporters, to come and support the team because we are not only representing our club, but Zimbabwe. If we win, we put the whole country on the map,” Zirekwi said.