The Sunday Mail
Cranborne Bullets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 2
CAPS United .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police was on high alert, anticipating further riotous behaviour from CAPS United fans, but in the end, there was peace at the National Sports Stadium yesterday as Makepekepe supporters walked away convinced their team had been outclassed by a well-drilled Cranborne Bullets.
A late strike by impressive midfielder Eric “Cantona” Manokore condemned CAPS United to their second defeat of the season as Cranborne Bullets climbed out of the relegation zone with a memorable win.
Manokore was consistent throughout the afternoon, just as he has been in the last 12 rounds, and duly clinched the winner in the 87th minute when he placed the ball beyond Tonderai Mateyaunga’s reach, after a fine exchange of passes on the break.
Yet it was United who had taken the initial lead, courtesy of 2022 Golden Boot winner William Manondo in the 18th minute.
It was an easy tap in, off a square ball by speedy winger Ian Nyoni.
Slyvaster Munhira then levelled it for Bullets on the stroke of half-time.
It was a deserved equaliser for Nesbert Saruchera’s soldiers, who controlled most of the first half and could have grabbed one more had Vincent Mhandu’s snapshot not been punched away for a corner by an alert Mateyaunga.
Makepekepe were an improved side in the second half, following the introduction of Blessing Sarupinda and Clive Rupiya for Joel Ngodzo and Adrian Silla.
They raided the Bullets goal on numerous occasions.
They came close to doubling their lead in the 56th minute but Xavier Janatana made a crucial intervention, first clearing the ball from the line before throwing his body to thwart another Makepekepe raid.
Meanwhile, Phineas Bamusi was always a threat on the left wing.
But to their credit, Cranborne Bullets kept their cool, passing the ball around with aplomb.
Manokore, as usual, was the conductor of the orchestra.
It was befitting when he clinched the winner three minutes from time when he started the move from the middle of the park before finishing it off in style.
The victory pushed Cranborne Bullets to 12th position.
“We did well in terms of defending and I also thought their (CAPS United) game plan was to stop us from playing. But in the second half, we were determined to take it to the wire,” said an elated Saruchera.
It was another remarkable performance against the league’s traditional giants by Cranborne Bullets, who also managed to hold both Dynamos and Highlanders in previous rounds of this campaign.
It was Bullets’ third win of the season, a statistic that belies their expansive type of football.
“We really knew we would bounce back because we have some very good youngsters,” boasted Saruchera.
CAPS United remained on 17 points and outside the top four. Their coach Lloyd Chitembwe was a disappointed man after the final whistle, although he took home some positives. Makepekepe fans did not throw missiles onto the pitch and no match official was injured yesterday.
“It was very disappointing, I thought we didn’t give it our all,” said Chitembwe.
“First half, we were very slow and it gave them hope and momentum.
“Second half, there was an improvement but we made some mistakes. You know when you are chasing the game, you are bound to make mistakes.
“We were committing so many numbers going forward and we got caught. We will try and improve on this performance,” Chitembwe said.
Chitembwe is targeting to harvest 30 points in the first half of the season.
“I am happy with the progress, the first half target of 30 points is within reach,” he said.
United are left with six games before the halfway mark of the 2023 season.
Cranborne Bullets: V. Jabangwe, X. Janatana, P. Mutasa, C. Charakupa, M. Mushangwe, E. Manokore, V. Mhandu (H. Chimutimunzeve 75), A. Ngwena, M. Mudzuka (T. Chibunyu 75), K. Murembera, S. Munhira
CAPS United: T. Mateyaunga, G. Murwira, I. Zambezi, H. Chapusha, J. Daka, J. Thulani, J. Ngodzo (B. Sarupinda 46), A. Silla (C. Rupiya 46), P. Bamusi, I. Nyoni, W. Manondo