AT this time last week, Caps United were in turmoil after coach Taurai Mangwiro had suddenly quit following the 3-1 mauling by Shabanie Mine in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match and returned after a meeting with the club president Twine Phiri.
On Thursday, his charges were off to Gweru for the Mbada Diamonds Cup quarter-final match against Chicken Inn at Ascot Stadium and two days later, they were celebrating their passage into the last four of the cash-rich competition after winning 2-1.
This afternoon, Caps United returns home after last week’s storm to face the same foes — Chicken Inn, for the fourth time this season — at the National Sports Stadium as the battle for top honours continues. Both teams are on 36 points and are on fifth and sixth place respectively.
This afternoon’s battle is the fourth of the season and Chicken Inn have won two of those matches, crucially the 2013 NetOne Charity Shield final 3-2 at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane in March and taken three points from a 1-0 win in the league in Bulawayo.
That 2-1 win at Ascot Stadium was the tonic that Caps United needed to re-set their tone for the season and what is left is for the fans to respond positively to today’s match at the NSS.
The Caps fans have been a disappointing lot this season, failing to come in their thousands for the home games, much to the embarrassment of the team’s leaders, but they would be the first to cry foul when the team underperforms due to non-payment of players.
Caps does not have a sponsor and depend on gate takings, especially from a big match like today’s, to pay off their players who, against all odds, have guaranteed the club at least $45 000 for reaching the Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-finals.
Big striker Tawanda Nyamandwe, goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, Warriors international Hardlife Zvirekwi and Young Warriors star Ronald Pfumbidzai are the key players for the Green Machine going into this encounter.
On the other hand, Chicken Inn had declared last week that their intentions were to play in Africa next, but having been booted out of the Mbada Diamonds Cup, their next season target should be finishing in the top two.
They have the material in national team players Danny Phiri, Felix Chindungwe and the enterprising Kuda Mahachi, but they need to turn that into a winning team and get the much needed points to push them up.
So, while the news was all about Mangwiro last week, today, the story is about the Gamecox coach Mandla Mpofu. He comes to Harare sitting on a two-match ultimatum handed to him by the executive at the Monday review meeting.
Following in the footsteps of the late great Adam Ndlovu was always going to be tough for Mpofu and once again, Mkhuphali Masuku, the saviour at Highlanders and Caps United in the last few years, could find himself in the host seat in the last five matches of the season.