CAPS UNITED . . . . . . (1) 1
CHAPUNGU . . . . . . . . . . . 0
CAPS United avenged their 3-0 humiliation at the hands of Chapungu earlier this season when they beat the Airforce of Zimbabwe side at Rufaro Stadium to keep their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title hopes alive, thanks to an own goal by defender Charles Mativenga.
The defender beat his own keeper with a flick header from a Moses Muchenje corner kick on 28th minute as the Green Machine recovered from last week’s disappointing draw away to Shabanie Mine.
Yesterday’s result means the Taurai Mangwiro-coached side remained within a touching distance of the leading pack as they maintained their fourth position on the log standings with 37 points, two behind champions Dynamos with nine games left to play.
Chapungu also remained unchanged at 10th position with 26 points, three better than Shabanie Mine who are sitting in the relegation zone.
Mangwiro could not have wished for a better result saying: “We are very much in it (title race), and the good thing is we are still to play some of those teams that we are chasing the championship with so it was important for us to win today (yesterday) to stay within touching distance with the leading pack,” said Mangwiro.
Chapungu coach John Nyikadzino said: “I’m not happy with the chances we failed to utilise, but overally I’m happy with the performance of the team.”
After the exhilarating clash at Ascot Stadium which saw Chapungu humiliating Caps United 3-0 in June, it was a slightly different affair this time around as the Harare side eked out a slender victory whose significance could prove massive at the end of the season.
Ronald Pfumbidzai and Stephen Makatuka were named on the Caps’ starting eleven despite their disciplinary problems which saw them refusing to travel to Shabanie in the midweek in protest over their unpaid salaries.
It was the Caps United fans who did their best to influence the pace of the match as they sang loudly and it was their side who were the first to truly threaten.
Nicholas Alifandika’s header bounced off the upright on 12th minute and ten minutes later, they should have taken a lead but Muchenje ballooned his effort over from close range.
The home side continued to dominate against a Chapungu side that were not bad either, and the breakthrough for Caps duly arrived just before the half hour mark – but in fortunate circumstances.
A low corner by Muchenje was flicked into the nets by defender Mativenga who beat his goalkeeper Alexander Useni on the far post.
But Chapungu almost responded immediately. Rodwell Mhlanga’s long range shot flew across Tafadzwa Dube’s face of goal, but it was Caps who could have doubled their lead towards the end of the first half, but Tendai Samanja dragged his firm shot just wide as the home side went to the break with their slender lead.
Any thoughts that the job was already done were banished by Chapungu’s renewed vigour in the second half.
Mhlanga sent another rocket from range on 51st minute which Tafadzwa Dube did just enough to tip over before Brighton Mugoni also tried his luck from range some minutes later, but could not find the target.
Chapungu were pressing hard for an equaliser and Mangwiro sensed the danger.
He had to make a substitution which came on 59th minute when he brought in defender Tapuwa Kumbuyani for midfielder Tafadzwa Mahori as he looked to add some numbers at the back.
Halftime substitute Leonard Fiyado could have eased Caps’ nerves on 65th minute when an awkward bounce put him through, but he scooped his effort over the bar.
Hardlife Zvirekwi was denied by Useni who parried his low shot wide and the midfielder’s angled volley from the resultant corner kick drifted well wide.
Useni was clearly the busier of the two goalkeepers as the clock ticked away as he made a reaction save to deny Fiyado from close range – adjusting his body to block the header.
The final whistle followed soon after.
CAPS UNITED: T Dube, H Zvirekwi, S Makatuka, G Nyirenda, R Pfumbidzai, T Samanja, T Mahori (T Kumbuyani, 59′), M Muchenje, N Alifandika (D Mukandi, 85), H Chimutimunzeve (L Fiyado, 46’), K Bulaji.
CHAPUNGU: A Useni, W Ngonya, L Khimu, C Kwaramba, C Mativenga, N Murisa, M Mavhuto, R Mhlanga, V Bangira, Mugoni (C Maheya, 68’), C Murisa (P Marufu, 46’)