CAPS United head coach Mark Harrison has implored his charges to overcome the uncertainty surrounding the Harare giants’ camp and come up with a positive result in their big Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter against Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium tomorrow.
BY THANDIWE MOYO
Kickoff is 1500hrs, live on SuperSport 9.
Makepekepe have been in the news for all the wrong reasons following the collapse of their sponsorship deal with South African firm Zing, culminating in their failure to pitch up for their league match against How Mine at Luveve Stadium in Week 3.
How Mine were awarded the match on a 3-0 scoreline and Caps were fined $1 250 as per the standing orders of the league.
Caps owner Twine Phiri is on record saying the club is up for sale and invited interested parties to take it off his hands. But what is clear is that Phiri will never sell Caps United despite mounting debts.
Instead, Phiri seems, like a cat, to have nine lives and has managed to hold on and run the full course of a season on a shoe-string budget like in 2014. His other partner, Harare businessman Farai Jere, has stayed away from the team for the last two seasons and is reportedly owed $2 million.
Two other former board members Lewis Uriri and Nhamo Tutisani are demanding a total of $142 000 from Caps United, pushing the third-biggest club in Zimbabwe, by fans and success, to the brink of extinction.
Harrison, who was said to be facing eviction from his lodgings this week due to non-payment of rentals, told NewsDay Sport they were expecting to do their best against Highlanders despite the low morale in their camp.
“The mood in the camp does not get any better. It is not improving. In fact, it is deteriorating. We will do our best because Highlanders are coming from a win and they will be fighting hard for the three points,” he said.
English expatriate Harrison added that tomorrow’s encounter was a high-profile match and they would treat it as such.
Caps United have in their ranks experienced players — Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Pfumbidzai and Rodreck Mutuma — who are expected to rise above the problems bedevilling the club and deliver against Highlanders.
Mutuma was impressive in his team’s 2-1 victory over Highlanders in a Bob91 Super Cup elimination tie earlier in the year, but has failed to maintain that off-season start. Pfumbidzai and Mutuma are struggling with injuries, while Carlton Munzambwa, Ashley Rambanepasi and Leonard Tsipa are doubtful.
In their last league encounter, Caps United drew 1-1 against ZPC Kariba at the National Sports Stadium and remained in eighth place with two wins, two draws and two loess on eight points, two behind their opponents tomorrow.
Caps’ last league visit to Highlanders last season was not a happy one: They were mauled 4-0 and need a reversal of fortunes to exact sweet revenge on the Bulawayo giants.
Highlanders head coach Bongani Mafu, whose relationship with the media has of late gone sour, opted not to speak much about the epic encounter against Caps United tomorrow.
“I will not comment on this one. I will play it on the pitch,” Mafu said.
Mafu’s relationship with the media took a knock after he was quoted as having said “even Jesus could not coach Highlanders”, probably relating to the nature of the team’s supporters.
The Highlanders leadership even went to the extent of gagging the coach, with media only having access to him on Thursdays at a press conference and after matches.
This week’s press conference, however, failed to materialise after journalists did not show up and Bosso softened their stance, with Mafu speaking to this publication albeit to say he would do his talking on the pitch.
Mafu will be hoping for consistency following Highlanders’ 1-0 victory over Dongo Sawmill last weekend. Bosso have accumulated 10 points from six matches and sit on fourth position, five behind leaders Chicken Inn and four behind Dynamos in second place. Triangle, who play Harare City at Gibbo Stadium tomorrow, have 13 points and lie in third place.
Bosso’s last league match at home ended in a 1-0 loss to Chapungu and this is the scenario that Mafu will want to avoid this time around.
Midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku, who is on loan from Bantu Rovers, was on target for Highlanders in their match against Dongo Sawmill and Mafu will be hoping his strikers, including young and hardworking Thomas Chideu, will come to the party tomorrow.
Highlanders have scored a mere three goals so far in the 2015 league programme.
The Bob91 Super Cup elimination tie between Highlanders and Caps United saw running battles between police and supporters and the Bosso leadership has called on supporters to refrain from violence.
Gate charges have been raised to $5 for the cheapest ticket for the rest of the ground, $10 for the western stands and $15 for the VIP stands as part of crowd control measures.