The Sunday Mail
The last Caps United captain to lift the league championship trophy was the talented Zambian centre back Laughter Chilembe way back in December 2005. The best that Caps United have achieved in the league since then was third position in 2009 when power-play striker Nyasha Mushekwi stole the hearts of many with a blinding season.
All along, the Makepekepe family has had to endure the pain as their more illustrious neighbours, Dynamos, stole the show, winning four titles and numerous cups while they could only go green with envy.
A renewed sense of hope is, however, emanating from the Makepekepe camp where expectations are high that the perennial under-achievers could salvage lost pride in the 2014 campaign.
The financial blues that have tinted the green family for the better part of the last decade could soon be arrested, at least according to club president Twine Phiri who revealed that his club was on the verge of sealing new sponsorship deals.
Phiri addressed the players after their day’s workout at Gwanzura on Thursday. Some members of the new board mingled with the players over drinks and one could sense that the Green Machine is idling, ready to embark on the long and arduous Premiership journey.
The test starts today when Makepekepe host newboys ZPC Kariba at Gwanzura in a match expected to generate a lot of interest, being the only Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match in the capital.
It is a battle that has numerous sub-plots, one that provides a foretaste of what to expect from both teams this season and thousands of supporters are expected to throng Gwanzura.
Taurai Mangwiro squares off against his “coaching godfather” Saul Chaminuka, the departed trio of Tawanda Nyamandwe, Tawanda Munyanduri and David Rediyoni are likely to face a hostile Caps United, and the same brand of football can be excepted from both teams as both coaches belong to the same school of thought. Fortune seems to favour Mangwiro though, as he has had the better of his tutor in their historical clashes, but the Caps United mentor is refusing to read much into that record.
“By the way, this is not a Saul versus Tau clash as most people are putting it.
“We are brothers and I am glad I did well to rehabilitate him after he was dumped at Buffaloes.
“He is the guy who introduced me to football coaching in Masvingo back in the early 2000s, but I do not need to go to his dressing room to hear what he will be telling his players neither does he have to do the same.
“I am just focused on winning this one and build on it as we hope to do better than last year,” said Mangwiro who guided United to fifth position last year.
ZPC might be found wanting as the club never played outside Kariba during the off-season and Chaminuka reckons the fight will “be more spiritual than physical.”
“We were going to play Caps eventually.
“We are concentrating on our methods, but I must say the lack of competitive friendlies could haunt us.
“This is also the first time we have travelled outside Kariba this year, the furthest we have travelled is 10 kilometres from Nyamhunga to Chaminuka Stadium and this might also affect my players,” said the soft-spoken gaffer.
He can, however, bank on his seasoned players, Norman Togara, Limited Chikafa and Pride Tafirenyika to name a few.
Historically, Caps United have fared well when their team is fused with foreign players especially those from Malawi and Zambia. Their millions of supporters hope the arrival of highly-rated striker Ishmael Thindwa and defensive linkman Madaliso Mwanza could rekindle the glory days of Ian Bakala, Joseph Kamwendo, Hadj Tambala and Chilembe.
The gangly Thindwa looked calm a few days before his debut and is looking forward to a fruitful season.
“Fans expect a lot from me especially after my performance at the Zambezi Trophy but I am sure I will deliver so that I give United value for their money.
“I know Caps United is a very good home to us Malawians and each time I think of my brother Kamwendo’s time here, I get a lot of inspiration. The Zimbabwean league is like a stepping stone for us Malawians and we always want to make the most out of opportunities like these,” said the former Epac player, who was expecting his international clearance to be processed by last night.
Thindwa is expected to partner Dominic Chungwa upfront but with the likes of Leonard Fiyado, Pervington Zimunya and Tongai Magwendere also itching for a starting place, the fire power at Mangwiro’s disposal could allow him to tinker around with his formations to get most from his personnel.
Although Mwanza is a carbon copy of Tendai Samanja, the dread-locked workhorse is sure to retain his defensive midfield role lest Mangwiro opts to use both of them. Mwanza, who joined United from Kongola Bullets, is a product of the late former DeMbare coach Keagan Mumba who coached him during his formative years back in Lusaka.
Mangwiro’s main worry could be the absence of influential Warriors international Hardlife Zvirekwi who is still recovering from a circumcision exercise he underwent recently.