For all the hype created by Moses Chunga’s blistering start to the season at Caps United and fall from grace after the loss to Blue Ribbon, there could not have been a tougher match to appease his team’s fans than to play league leaders Chicken Inn Saturday.
The match takes place at the National Sports Stadium with Chunga determined to last the mile against an equally determined support base that believes the former Warriors captain is not one of their own, but a Dynamos son.
True, he might be—how come Willard Khumalo is coaching Zimbabwe Saints—but this is work and he has a job to do at the former champions.
For Caps United supporters, three wins, one loss and a draw against struggling sides Shooting Stars and Black Mambas are just not enough, despite the team sitting pretty in second position behind their opponents this afternoon.
In five matches, Chunga’s defence has let in eight goals, compared to three by Chicken Inn, who are marshalled by the veteran pair of Hebert Dick and Sikhumbuzo Banda.
Without Under-23 star Simba Sithole, Chunga has to summon Evans Gwekwerere to the party and hope midfield star Stephen Alimenda and Marvel Samaneka work extra hard to cut off the supply line to Chicken Inn dangermen Cannan Nkomo and Kid Mukambi.
Sithole is part of the Young Warriors squad that will seek to do the nation proud by beating Botswana in an All-Africa Games Zone 6 qualifier at Rufaro Sunday.
Chicken Inn and Caps are separated by three points with Philani Ncube’s team still to lose in five games. They have won four and drawn one while the former champions have 10 with three wins, a loss and a draw against Black Mambas.
Equally, coming into this afternoon’s games is Highlanders’ Mkhuphali Masuku whose resurgent Bulawayo giants face Shooting Stars, now back under nomadic Patson Ndabambi.
In his last “important” assignment in an Independence Trophy final in 2008, Ndabambi engineered a 1-0 win at the National Sports Stadium and will certainly be dreaming of a repeat performance at Gwanzura Saturday.
In his first game in charge, Ndabambi upset defending champions Motor Action 1-0 before he was brought down to earth 4-1 by Chicken Inn during the Easter weekend.
Highlanders, who will miss Under-23 internationals Arial Sibanda and Misheck Mburayi, have had three successful games—beating Dynamos and Gunners in Harare in successive games before drawing against Lloyd Mutasa’s side at Barbourfields.
But like Dynamos, they lack a gunman to feed off Njabulo Ncube’s work-rate while Erick Mudzingwa and Rahman Kutsanzira are sometimes played too deep in midfield to suffocate the opponent, but starving the team on the offensive.
In another matches, Gunners take on “$30 000” team Kiglon at the Lafarge Stadium this afternoon after a poor start to the season. From four games, they have two losses and two draws and lie in 15th position on the log. By performance they are not a bad side and have fed off well from the experience of Ashley Rambanapasi, Maketo Sengu and Elvis Meleka.
Tomorrow, Blue Ribbon face Motor Action at Gwanzura, Zimbabwe Saints are at home to Monomotapa while winless Shabanie Mine and Hwange slug it out at Maglas.