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Caps hire Cooper

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Caps United have hired former Highlanders boss Mkhuphali Masuku as assistant to newly-appointed head coach Taurayi Mangwiro.

This follows the dismissal of manager Sean Connor and his entire technical team on Sunday after a 3-2 Premier Soccer League loss to Hwange at the Colliery.

Masuku, otherwise known as Mr Cooper, left Highlanders at the end of last season after the current Premiership leaders opted not to renew his contract. They eventually appointed Zambian Kelvin Kaindu as head coach.

While Caps chief executive officer Maxwell Mironga was not available for comment last night, sources told NewsDay Sport that Masuku was recommended by Mangwiro and was expected in Harare today to sign his contract.

“He (Masuku) is coming in tomorrow (today) and I think Brenna Msiska might stick around as goalkeepers’ coach,” sources said as the Caps bosses want a leaner structure this time.

After getting public backing last week from the Caps bosses, Connor ought to have tried his best against Hwange, who have not been playing very well at the Colliery this season, but suffered a last-minute defeat that sent him back home.

Connor lasted 16 games, winning five, losing seven while managing four draws and leaves the team in ninth place with 19 points — a massive 17 off leaders Highlanders who they play at Rufaro Stadium this Saturday.

New coach Mangwiro will handle Caps’ 17th match of the season against unbeaten Highlanders, hoping to inflict the Bulawayo giants’ first loss of the season.

Mangwiro parted ways with Monomotapa last week and aims to take Caps, who have struggled since their last title win in 2005, to the top four.

But the writing was on the wall for Connor following back-to-back losses to Highlanders, Hwange, Dynamos and the coalminers again.

Between him and his assistant Lloyd Chitembwe stood a striker called Evans Gwekwerere who, after clashing with the latter last season, found himself on the wrong side of the game in June during their match against Buffaloes.

Gwekwerere had arrived late at training ahead of the match and Chitembwe, as the man who had been in charge of training the whole week while Connor was back home, thought those that made themselves available should get first preference.

Connor thought otherwise — he played Gwekwerere and Chitembwe was not amused at all, leading to a clash between the two.

Despite massive investment in players, Connor struggled from his first home game after Caps had drawn 0-0 against Shabanie Mine in the season opener at Maglas.

Caps crashed 2-0 to Chicken Inn at Gwanzura in a match where fans ran riot, calling for Connor’s immediate return to Northern Ireland.

It was then that we were reminded of some bare facts about Connor’s stint as coach: 23 consecutive losses last year and a record 19 red cards for Dundalk.

It is also a fact that Caps have scored more than one goal only twice this season — a 3-1 home win over FC Platinum and the 3-2 loss to Hwange on Sunday that sealed Connor’s fate while the
3-0 win over Motor Action was a walkover.

From 16 matches, the former champions scored 15 goals and conceded 16. The top goalscorer is Edmore Sibanda with three goals, the same as attacking midfielder Rahman Kutsanzira. Where is Gwekwerere, Clive Kawinga and Washington Pakamisa?

Could Connor have been sabotaged by the players who preferred Chitembwe? Some Caps fans seem to believe so, but it now remains to be seen how the same players will react to Mangwiro’s methods against Highlanders on Saturday.

Connor’s last throw of the dice to save his job came on Sunday afternoon at the Colliery, at exactly 4:03pm as he scaled the fence to get into the pitch for the second half of the match in an apparent juju belief.

There is no doubt Caps will be seeking an immediate turn- around as a loss can only worsen the situation. In fact, should Highlanders lose, Mangwiro will immediately be seen as a hero and his biggest admirers will be Dynamos and Shabanie Mine fans.

Highlanders lead the standings with 36 points, four ahead of Shabanie and six ahead of Dynamos and have the toughest encounter this weekend.

Dynamos, coming from a 2-1 win over FC Platinum on Saturday at Mandava, will easily beat Blue Rangers.

The Dynamos-Platinum match was marred by incidents of missile-throwing by the visitors’ fans and DeMbare could face disciplinary action from the league’s chiefs.

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