CAPS United coach, Lloyd Chitembwe will for the second consecutive Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match forced to tinker with his team in defence due to the absence of key players in that department.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Central defender, Justice Jangano, who partnered Dennis Dauda in Caps United’s 1-0 win over Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, is suspended for today’s trip to Tsholotsho after accumulating three yellow cards, while roving left-back, Ronald Pfumbidzai has been ruled out of the match with a shoulder injury.
Pfumbidzai picked the injury in the Sunday match and, while he managed to soldier on for the rest of the game, Chitembwe has decided to rest him for the trip to Bulawayo.
The club is also fretting over the fitness of Tafadzwa Rusike, who might also miss today’s match set for Luveve Stadium, due to an injury.
The midfielder, outstanding in the win against Highlanders before hobbling off the pitch with 12 minutes remaining, with a problematic ankle, will have to pass a late fitness test.
If he fails the test, it would create an even bigger problem for Chitembwe, who has to fix his defensive department, which will be missing Jangano and Pfumbidzai.
However, he remains calm.
“The same thing was said before the game against Highlanders, but all the players in my squad are key. We do not depend on individuals, but everyone in the squad and their contribution,” he said.
On Sunday, he was forced to do duty without his star defender, Stephen Makatuka, who was serving a one-match suspension for accumulating three yellow cards, with Dauda coming in as cover.
The former ZPC Kariba man did not disappoint and is a sure bet to start today alongside the returning Makatuka.
Makatuka’s absence on Sunday was not felt, as Caps United dominated play and deservedly won the match – a result that moved the Harare giants back into second position on the log standings.
Striker Leonard Tsipa is also out, serving his last of a two match ban, after picking a red card in his team’s reverse fixture against Highlanders a fortnight ago.
Turning to the title race, where his side, at 32 points, are four behind FC Platinum, Chitembwe said: “The competition is very good. We have about six teams that are competing for the title. The competition is no longer of kindergarten proportions. It is quite a competitive race, but it is last quarter of the season that will matter most. We just have to be there and compete.”
While Chitembwe is unfazed by the long list of possible absentees in the squad for the match, the same cannot be said about his Tsholotsho counterpart, Lizwe Sweswe.
“I have lost most of my boys and have two key players injured. The second round of the season demands us to be tough. We can’t afford to lose more points at this stage of the season.
“I know Caps United are a strong side with a well-assembled squad and they are coming here for maximum points, but we are equally prepared,” he said.
Tsholotsho recently lost skipper, William Stima to FC Platinum and Simbarashe Gorogodyo to Dynamos, while Lynoth Chikuhwa has also left the financially-troubled side and Mostapha Ponyera and Kriss Chitiyo are nursing injuries. Tsholotsho, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Mutare City in their last league match, need to start picking points if they are to survive relegation. They currently lie 14th with 12 points.