‘Tsipa is the green Zlatan’

CAPS UNITED coach Lloyd Chitembwe has described veteran striker Leonard Tsipa as his team’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and has backed last season’s top goal scorer to carry the team again this season.

Tsipa, who turned 35 in January, landed the 2016 Castle Lager Golden Boot award with 11 goals as he helped his side to their first Premier Soccer League triumph since 2005.

He is yet to score a league goal this season and missed a penalty in the ZNA Charity Shield final against Highlanders.

Makepekepe have been struggling to find the net, but as the champions prepare for the visit of Tsholotsho this afternoon, Chitembwe insists he is not worried about the lack of goals.

“Why should I always field questions about Leonard and his age? He is still the same player that you doubted last season but went on to deliver for us,” said the Makepekepe coach. “I challenge his critics by saying that let anybody who thought he would top the scoring charts last season raise their hands. I bet you will not see any hand up.

“Age does not matter in this, look how Zlatan is shining at his age. The challenge is for us to manage his fitness and the rest will follow. Scoring is part of his (Tsipa) nature, it just comes naturally and I know he will shine just like last season.

“You can’t measure our readiness for the league title defence challenge using our performances in the Independence Cup or the ZNA cup, because there is always a different approach in every tournament. I don’t think there is any team in the league that creates as much as we do so I am not worried at all.”

With four points from two league outings, Chitembwe’s men have matched last season’s return in which they registered a win and a draw against Chapungu and Ngezi Platinum before going on to power their way to league honours.

“I am very happy with our results in the league, we haven’t tasted defeat and our chances are as good as any other team,” said Chitembwe.

Apart from Tsipa, the only other striker at Caps United’s disposal is Dominic Chungwa after Simba Nhivi decided against renewing his contract with the champions.

Chungwa has been poor this season and many expected Makepekepe to move swiftly and find a replacement for Nhivi.

However, Chitembwe is happy with what he has at his disposal.

“I don’t want to talk about the players who are not here, the issue of Simba does is a closed chapter,” he said. “I would rather talk of the players who are here and I reiterate that these guys have what it takes to deliver.”

Tsholotsho have a tall order against a Caps United side that is yet to taste league defeat at home in 23 outings. The hosts also have a better head-to-head record as they are yet to lose a match to Tsholotsho since the visitors gained promotion to the top flight in 2015.

The two sides have met four times with Caps winning three of those matches.

 Today’s Fixtures (kickoff 3pm)

 Triangle vs Chicken Inn (Gibbo), Hwange vs Dynamos (Colliery), Highlanders vs ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields), Shabanie Mine vs Harare City (Maglas), Caps United vs Tsholotsho (National Sports Stadium)

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