CAPS United’s revival will be put to the test once again today as they face FC Platinum hoping to extend their unbeaten record against the Zvishavane side in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League tie at Mandava Stadium.
The Green Machine coach Taurai Mangwiro has led the resurgence of the former champions since he returned from suspension over issues involving match-fixing.
Caps United have posted crucial victories which have seen them going for an eight-match unbeaten run. These victories include a 2-1 win over Highlanders.
They also defeated FC Platinum by the same scoreline in Harare leaving them in their best position in the championship race in the last four years.
Suddenly there is optimism that they can be serious contenders for the ultimate prize of domestic football after a disappointing season last term, when they finished a distant 10th on the league table.
The Green Machine are on fourth position on the league table with 31 points and trail log leaders Harare City by six points.
The Harare giants go into the match with a psychological advantage after edging their opponents 2-1 in the first leg in Harare with goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube emerging the hero with several classy stops including a penalty to deny the Zvishavane-based side a victory they desperately needed.
FC Platinum have never beaten Caps United in all encounters since their promotion three years ago with their best achievement being two draws (1-1) and (2-2) in 2011. In 2012, the Zvishavane outfit fell 2-1 and 2-0 in their league meetings.
Now if Mangwiro’s men can hold their nerves and pass this latest test, they could well be poised to land the championship they last won under the guidance of Charles Mhlauri in 2005, who completed a double after winning the previous season.
Dube also makes a return to Mandava for the first time since his transfer to Caps United after being deemed excess to requirements at FC Platinum.
Dube has been on national team duty with the Warriors, but returns to face his former paymasters.
But Caps’ assistant and goalkeepers’ coach Brenna Msiska is wary of FC Platinum.
“They are at home and have also a psychological advantage. They will be seeking revenge after we beat them in Harare.
“We have been preparing for them only that this Premiership break has affected our rhythm. We don’t have problems with regards to the fitness of players, but the combinations have been affected because we didn’t have some of our players who were with the national team,” Msiska said.
The Caps United assistant coach, however, said there were doubts over Tendai Samanja and George Magariro as they had not yet paid their Asiagate fines.
Msiska added that the foresaid players were working on some payment plan to settle their dues with Zifa after the national association issued a directive that all players who have not paid their fines must not play.
Msiska also said they were hoping to consolidate their unbeaten record against FC Platinum. “It will be good if we preserve our unbeaten record against FC Platinum. We are targeting a positive result. We want to remain in the top four so that we can fulfil our chances of winning the championship,” said Msiska.
FC Platinum — placed on sixth position with 29 points are now under the guidance of former Warriors coach Lloyd Mutasa and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to break the long standing hoodoo against the Harare giants.
National team players Charles Sibanda, Nelson Maziwisa and Ali Sadiki hold the key Platinum’s success if Mutasa plays his cards well.
The former Dynamos coach has been accused of changing team line-ups before the start of the match based on his religious beliefs and what he “would have seen in his dreams” before a game.
That aside, Platinum are still in the equation for the league title.