ZPC Kariba coach Saul Chaminuka says his team is feeling the added pressure as they enter the final day of the season well poised to take the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title to Kariba in their debut season.
The league leaders, who will be without Tsepo Ranthokoane through suspension, face Caps United on “home turf” at Gwanzura Stadium this Sunday.
Chaminuka’s side are two points clear at the top of the table and with a goal difference four better than second-placed and champions Dynamos. It would take a defeat to Caps United and a win for the Glamour Boys against How Mine on the same day for ZPC Kariba to lose out on being crowned Premier League champions in their first year with the big boys.
Kauya Katuruturu put one hand on the trophy a fortnight ago with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Dynamos.
In arguably one of the most fascinating title races in league history, ZPC Kariba timed their victory over their title challengers just right.
Their win over Dynamos, who have lost striker Rodreck Mutuma to suspension, means that ZPC Kariba have not lost a match in Harare this season, making the Caps United match appear something of a formality, but memories of a dramatic final day last season loom large and mean that nothing will be taken for granted.
Then, it was Harare City, also in their maiden season in the top-flight league needing a win against a struggling Caps United to be crowned champions, but was held to a 2-2 draw, allowing Dynamos to win the title on goal difference after beating Black Mambas 2-0.
“At this stage we are favourites and a lot of people are already congratulating us for winning the title, but I think that can work against us,” said Chaminuka yesterday.
“That can make the team very complacent so we will need to be disciplined and try to guard against complacency on the day if we are to win the league. Our target is to win the match because a draw will not give us anything.
“We will not risk by playing for a draw because anything can happen in the Dynamos-How Mine match. We just have to get an outright win to be safe.”
The soft-spoken former Caps United assistant coach arrived in the country on Tuesday night from national duty in Morocco with the Young Warriors where he is an assistant to Dynamos coach Kalisto Pasuwa.
Chaminuka added: “We are on top of the log and we are under some pressure on both match playing situations, with and without the ball. We are playing a very good side so we will need to use time and space very carefully.”
Chaminuka worked as an assistant coach at Caps United last season before joining his current team at the start of the current campaign.
He reckons the experience with the Green Machine would come handy on Sunday, but could be on both sides.
“My knowledge of Caps United can help us in a way because I know almost every player’s capabilities, but the Caps players also know my style of play, how I like to play, so it’s also an advantage to them.
“Most people might think beating Caps is a done deal, but I know we have a big match on our hands, playing a team who have nothing to lose. They are not under any pressure because they are not playing for anything other than pride. They will come and enjoy themselves and try to spoil our fun. Harare City had the same predicament, and history always repeats itself, and that is what I am afraid of,” Chaminuka said.
Caps United will be under the charge of assistant coach Mike Madzivanyika for this match as coach Taurai Mangwiro is away in Cameroon where he is attending a Fifa course.
Mangwiro left for Douala, Cameroon on Tuesday for a Fifa elite instructors’ course that started yesterday and will run until November 25, together with Zifa technical director Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe.
Caps United, who are currently on third position, have already qualified for the Mbada Diamonds Cup by finishing in the top four and the result of Sunday’s match will not alter their status.
If they move, it will be from third to fourth place in the event fourth-placed FC Platinum beat already relegated Chiredzi at Mandava Stadium on the same day.
ZPC Kariba are strong favourites to win and might just need a draw to secure the Castle Lager Premier League title.
However, in a league that has produced final day drama before, victory and the title is by no means assured and Dynamos will keep their fingers crossed that, like last season, bitter rivals, Caps United will be their friends again, but for only 90 minutes.