The Sunday Mail
CAPS UNITED co-owner Nhamo Tutisani and returning coach Lloyd Chitembwe appear to have smoked the peace pipe in a development that could signal the beginning of an end to the club’s recent struggles.
The frosty relationship between the pair hit an all-time low in August 2019 when Chitembwe quit the club in a huff.
But they now seem to have found each other “for the benefit of the club”.
Tutisani is actually looking forward to a fruitful relationship with the gaffer, who rejoined Makepekepe on Tuesday after signing a three-year contract.
The former Zimbabwe midfielder replaced Darlington Dodo, who presided over a woeful Chibuku Super Cup campaign in which CAPS United recorded just two wins in 10 matches.
Dodo’s reign was, however, blighted by off-the-field problems, as Makepekepe players consistently downed tools over non-payment of salaries.
Tutisani and Chitembwe are set to meet this week to map the way forward.
CAPS are currently considering an audacious commercialisation move.
“We agreed as partners, myself and Farai (Jere), that we were having some backlash from an important constituency, which is our fans, and we had to plug the hole,” Tutisani told The Sunday Mail Sport yesterday.
“We agreed to bring back Lloyd Chitembwe so that he could normalise the situation.
“I don’t have any problem with Chitembwe; actually, I respect his competitiveness and skill. I don’t want to be the coach and I am sure he also doesn’t want to be a major shareholder of the club.
“So, there is no direct competition between Lloyd and me.”
When Chitembwe quit CAPS United in 2019, a section of fans chose to blame Tutisani for forcing him out.
The veteran coach’s latest comeback to the club that gave him fame set tongues wagging given their previous strained working relationship.
Makepekepe have been pushed into the shadows of their city rivals Dynamos and other Premiership title contenders such as Highlanders, champions FC Platinum and the ambitious Ngezi Platinum Stars.
“Sometimes we differ, but we still have to work together. Chitembwe can work with me, that’s why he is back. He is a coach who has a proven track record.
“We will soon sit down formally and school him on where we want to take this club. It will be a meeting of minds,” added Tutisani.
The meeting will also discuss the planned commercialisation drive, which is premised on identifying talent and nurturing it for export.
Interestingly, Chitembwe is fond of proven and established players, while Tutisani believes in recruiting and developing young players.
“It (commercialisation) is still on track, but we were pegged back by Covid-19. We have big ambitions. We want to build a brand that is globally recognised.
“That’s why we will have a meeting of minds with coach Chitembwe so that we agree on the way forward with regards such.
“There is need for us to drive athlete development, player acquisition and retention, resulting in exportation.”
The success of such a commercialisation drive, however, also hinges on CAPS United finding a stable sponsor.
In September, there were reports of a possible takeover by a group of investors with links to an unnamed English Premier League.
The Green Machine have also been linked with a deal with fuel giants Sakunda Holdings, who are already bankrolling Dynamos and Highlanders.
Tutisani said: “An investor from the United Kingdom had come up, the guys are buying African clubs and twinning them up with Premier League clubs in England.
“But it now seems the potential investor has some handicap. However, we are still waiting for them to come back . . .
“We approached Sakunda Holdings in May 2020 and we gave them our budget. They are still on our radar, including some other deals that are on the horizon.”
Makepekepe have been dogged by perennial player unrest, which some believe could have caused the club’s dismal performance in the Chibuku Super Cup.
They even failed to progress beyond the group stage.
“We have what we call a strategic stretch. There is a mismatch between our intentions and the levels of resources, so there is need for resource mobilisation.
“As an employer, we know our obligations, we know our targets, but reward is determined by the environment we are operating in.
“I also think we need to have players with the right mindset.
“At least league football is back, it allows people and investors to pay attention to football.”
Tutisani said the club’s main objective now is to bring stability and identify proper and motivated athletes.
“So we need the requisite arsenal to perform; personnel that brings entertainment value so that we also attract investors.
“How do you expect to be paid for coming late for training, you are not winning and you are not providing any entertainment?
“Let’s look at this issue at industry level. The entire sports industry is shaken,’’ he said.
Chitembwe and Tutisani might have buried the hatchet, but they know they will have to work under pressure from CAPS United fans, especially in times like these when their bitter rivals from the blue half of the capital are enjoying a purple patch.