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Zambia trip gives Caps insight

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Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe has said his team reaped a lot of benefits from the trip to Zambia over the weekend, as they fine-tuned for their Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League preliminary round clash against Lesotho champions Lioli.

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

Lloyd Chitembwe
Lloyd Chitembwe

Even though this could have been the last set of friendlies for the Green Machine, Chitembwe insisted yesterday that results were not of concern to him, as he wanted to see certain aspects of the game and his players improve.

Having beaten Mozambique’s Ferroviario Da Beira 2-0 in an international friendly match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare a week ago, Caps United’s preparedness for the African Safari was put to test against tougher opponents in Zambia, where they were dismissed 2-0 by Red Arrows on Friday.

They, however, quickly recovered to overcome Zambian champions, Zanaco 2-1 on Sunday courtesy of goals from goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, who scored from a free kick, and midfielder Abbas Amidu.

But Chitembwe maintained they were not reading too much into the outcome of the matches they played, but were happy with the physical conditioning and team bonding dividends.

“We are quite happy with the trip to Zambia. It benefited us in many ways. Every training session is beneficial and this trip to Zambia helped us a lot in terms of the physical conditioning aspect and team bonding. Our concern has been on those aspects and not the results and we are quite happy so far. The team is getting into shape,” he said.

Caps United returned from Zambia on Monday and are expected to resume their preparations today after resting yesterday.

Leonard Tsipa, last year’s Golden Boot winner and the most senior member of the squad with Champions League experience, said their preparations had proceeded well and they were ready for the trip to Lesotho.

“So far, our preparations have gone very well. The Zambia trip was very useful, it helped us a lot as a team. You need to have this exposure and I think we have now covered a lot of ground in terms of preparations. Now we need to fine-tune before we leave for Lesotho next week,” Tsipa, who turned 35 last week, said.

Should Caps United overcome Lioli in the first leg of the preliminary round, they face a tough hurdle in the form of seasoned African Champions League campaigners, TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first round.

The Green Machine have retained the majority of the players, who helped them to championship success last season, with former Harare City midfielder Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo and defender Last Sithole from FC Platinum being the only arrivals.

Already, Sithole has shown glimpses of being a modern defender, with his positional discipline and ability to read the game. He should be an adquate replacement for centre-back, Stephen Makatuka, who left for South Africa to join National First Division side Amazulu.

Caps United have ambitious plans for this year, where they have set themselves a minimum target of reaching the group stages of the Champions League.

They will be boosted by the return of right-back, Hardlife Zvirekwi, who has been on international duty with
the Warriors.

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