Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
CAPS United’s 23-game league unbeaten home run has squeezed them into an exclusive company of global football aristocrats, with Manchester United having knitted a 21-match run without defeat in the English Premiership while Tottenham Hotspur haven’t lost a game in their 16 home English Premiership matches this season.
The Green Machine beat Harare City 2-1 on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium — which they have converted into their fortress — where they haven’t lost a league match since a 0-1 loss to the same opponents on July 25, 2015, in an incredible run where their indomitable spirit in their backyard has shone brightly.
That victory meant CAPS United, who went the entire season unbeaten in the league at home last year, took their impressive run — without a loss in their backyard to 23 league games in 21 months — in a period in which they have perfected the art of not losing a match before their fans who, until last year, had suffered badly for the cause of this club.
Makepekepe have now equalled the record 23-game unbeaten streak by coach Roy Baretto’s championship-winning Zimbabwe Saints immortals of 1988, one of the finest teams ever assembled on the domestic front, although — unlike the Green Machine — Chikwata’s run involved matches played at home and away.
The Harare giants have won 14 of those 23 matches and drawn nine, scoring 39 goals and conceding 16, in a remarkable run that has seen them accumulate 51 out of a possible 69 points for an impressive 73.91 percent success rate on which they have built their transformation into the dominant force on the domestic football scene.
Eleven of those victories have come in the past 16 home games, which is exactly the number of matches they have played in their backyard since the beginning of last season, while they have also kept 11 clean sheets at home.
Last season, only three teams — Dynamos, FC Platinum and Triangle — managed to force a draw against CAPS United at the giant stadium while the Green Machine’s two other draws came on the two occasions they used Rufaro as their home ground in matches against ZPC Kariba and Hwange.
They have also turned themselves into the masters of snatching decisive last-gasp goals at home, with their never-say-die spirit pushing them to defy expectations, go beyond the limitations of mere mortals and smash the threshold of pain in their quest never to succumb to defeat in their backyard.
That indomitable spirit was demonstrated in the way CAPS United rose from the dead, from three goals down with five minutes of regulation time left, to force a 3-3 draw against bitter rivals Dynamos in the Harare Derby, the way they refused to let a late equaliser by How Mine to destroy them as they raced up the field, in the final minute, to snatch the winner in a 3-2 victory and how Leonard Tsipa’s last-minute header won them a point against ZPC Kariba.
CAPS United are unbeaten in the league, whether at home or away, in the past dozen games since they succumbed to a surprise 1-3 defeat at the hands of Bulawayo City last year, one of only three matches they lost all season.
Since the opening day of the season last year, the Green Machine have only lost league matches in Bulawayo — where they were beaten 0-1 by Highlanders and 1-2 by How Mine — and are unbeaten either at home, or on the road, in other areas of the country.
They have also used their impressive home record to write their CAF Champions League success story this year, where they have knocked five-time African champions TP Mazembe along the way, to book their place in the group stages of the continent’s flagship inter-club football tournament.
In the Zambian top-flight league, ZESCO United have recorded for the longest unbeaten run in the championship after going for 15 matches without a loss one season while in South Africa, SuperSport equalled Kaizer Chiefs’ 19-match unbeaten run only to be humbled to a 0-1 defeat by Baroka.
CAPS United’s formidable home record, where they have become unbeatable in the league in the past 21 months, has seen them join illustrious company like English Premiership side Tottenham Hotspur, who are chasing the championship, and are unbeaten at their White Hart Lane in the league in this current campaign.
Spurs have won 14 and drawn two of the 16 league matches they have played at home, accumulating a remarkable 44 out of a possible 48 points, to remain in contention for the English Premiership title where they trail leaders and favourites Chelsea by seven points in the tail-end of the campaign.
Manchester United, the most successful team in the English Premiership, have put together a 21-match unbeaten run in the league, stretching back to October last year when they were handed a 4-0 thrashing by Chelsea — whom they meet in their next fixture — winning 11 games and drawing 10 with most of their stalemates, frustratingly, coming in their backyard.
Jose Mourinho’s men have scored 33 goals and conceded 12 along the way but the points they have lost to the drawn matches mean their unbeaten run — unlike that of CAPS United — might not reap them huge dividends.
United’s unbeaten run has been mocked, by some pundits, as the worst such run without defeat in the history of the English Premiership with Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils of 2002 and 2003 also going for 21 matches without defeat but winning 18 and drawing only three matches for a points tally of 57. Arsenal went on a 30-game unbeaten run between December 2001 and October 2002 and won 25 games and drew five; Chelsea’s unbeaten run between October 2004 and October 2005 stretched to 40 matches and saw them winning 33 and drawing seven of those games for a points tally of 106; Manchester United’s unbeaten run between February 2000 and September 2001 saw them winning 16 and drawing five of their 21 league matches.
The Gunners also went for a 49-game unbeaten run in the league between May 2003 and October 2004 and won 36 of those games, drew 13, and took home 121 points during that amazing run.