CAPS United will look to get their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title challenge back on track when they host troubled Chicken Inn at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The match will be beamed live on SuperSport.
The Green Machine’s five-match unbeaten run which had yielded 13 points, came to an end with a 1-0 defeat to city rivals Dynamos in the Harare Derby last Sunday.
While Caps United coach Taurai Mangwiro defended his team’s performance especially in the second half and blamed the loss on a “curse”, the result was a major blow to their hopes of winning the title for the first time in nine years.
On fourth position with 27 points, Caps United are three points behind joint second-placed Dynamos and ZPC Kariba and four behind log leaders Highlanders.
There could be more movement in the title battle this weekend as Highlanders host How Mine at Barbourfields Stadium, while Dynamos travel to Rimuka Stadium for a date with Black Rhinos and ZPC Kariba are at home to Hwange this afternoon.
Caps could be six points behind ZPC Kariba by the time they start their match if the Electricity Boys beat Hwange this afternoon, but even if that result goes the other way, it will still be detrimental to the Green Machine’s cause somehow.
A win for Hwange will see the Nation Dube-coached moving to fourth place and Caps assistant coach Mike Madzivanyika knows losing further ground would cause significant damage to his team’s title ambitions.
“After losing to Dynamos in the league and cup match in the last two weeks we will obviously want to bounce back. A win in this match will be good for our confidence going forward and also increase our chances of winning the title,” said Madzivanyika.
As they look to bounce back from last week’s disappointment, a home match against struggling Chicken Inn who have lost their last three matches will be seen as a good opportunity for Mangwiro and his players.
United have received mixed news ahead of their attempt to bounce back, with the team captain Tapiwa Kumbuyani who missed last weekend’s defeat, certified fit to play, but utility player Dominic Mukandi is suspended while David Chipala is still down with an injury.
“We want to keep in touch with the leading teams so we need to win this match. It will be a very important match for the two teams because Chicken Inn are going through a bad patch and would want to bounce back as well,” added Madzivanyika.
Chicken Inn were seen as one of the title contenders at the start of the season, but they have been woeful this far. They lost 2-1 to Caps United in the reverse fixture before recording back to back defeats against ZPC Kariba, a result which has left them on 10th position and a massive 11 points behind the log leaders.
Despite the dismal run especially in the last few weeks, Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas is confident his players can put on a better show in the second half of the season.
“Our fortunes have to improve, starting with this match. We have to make sure that we go out there and try to win every match,” said Antipas.
Elsewhere, Dynamos will look to get maximum points against Black Rhinos in Kadoma tomorrow. The last time Dynamos travelled to the same venue last season, they returned to Harare with one point.
In the reverse fixture, Dynamos won 2-1 but Rhinos now coached by Joisten Mathuthu have improved in the last two weeks, completing a double over How Mine.
Highlanders host the wounded a How Mine side at Barbourfields tomorrow, knowing that anything short of maximum points would be harmful. Bosso are expected to parade their new players which include returnee Njabulo Ncube, Pascal Manhanga, Webster Chingodza and Tapiwa Dephistara.
How Mine have made some reinforcements to their squad too. Caleb Masocha, Louis Matawu and Mandla Sibanda, who was in Botswana, have joined and would be hoping their arrival will help arrest a shock loss of form which has seen the side losing their last four matches.
It has been a see-saw between the two Bulawayo sides-How Mine won two matches against Bosso last season, but lost the Mbada Diamonds Cup final. This year, Highlanders won the reverse league fixture 2-1 before How Mine booted them out of the One Wallet Cup.