HomeSportThe big Baobab battle

The big Baobab battle


THE Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash between Ngezi Platinum Stars and reigning champions Caps United in Mhondoro this afternoon, pits two of the finest tacticians in the topflight, whose mind battles are sure to produce fireworks on the pitch.


Ngezi Platinum Stars’ coach, Tonderai Ndiraya (pictured) has been at the helm of the platinum miners for less than a year, but in that short period, he has proven himself to be streetwise and a shrewd mentor.

On the other hand, those who doubted Lloyd Chitembwe’s acumen at Caps should surely have rested their case after he led the team to the title, as well as to the mini league stage of the Caf Champions League.

These are two clubs, from which so much is expected this season and their clash today is the pick of a lineup of seven topflight matches set for this afternoon across the country.

Expectations are that the Ngezi-Caps match will be produce fireworks, as both sides seek wins after disappointing results in their last matches, where the platinum miners recorded their first defeat, while the Green Machine were disappointed all they got was a point against tsholotsho at home.

This sets up what could be an intriguing tie and Ndiraya expects a tough contest and is banking on home advantage.

Ndiraya said despite a stumble by Caps United after they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Tsholotsho at the weekend, the Green Machine are still high on confidence, which they derive from their qualification into the lucrative mini-league of the African Champions League.

“We are meeting a team high on confidence, which they derive from their qualification into the mini league stage of the African Champions League, more importantly, winning the championship,” he said. “It will not be easy against the champions. But from this end, we are also confident playing before our home supporters. We also derive our confidence from being the cup champions. So, this is a meeting of two football champions, something that adds spice to the encounter. We are looking forward to the game.”

Ngezi Platinum stars won the Chibuku Super Cup last season, but fell in the early vetting stages of the Caf Confederations Cup.

Ngezi Platinum have had an explosive start to the campaign putting together three straight wins, before their bubble was burst by Yadah FC.

While the defeat to Yadah Stars might be viewed as a major reversal, Ndiraya believes they can capitalise on home advantage to secure a positive result against Makepekepe. This time last season, Caps United visited the Baobab for a league clash and secured a point in a 1-1 draw. Ngezi will still be without skipper Partson Jaure, who is nursing an ankle injury.

Jaure has missed the last two matches against Harare City and Yadah Stars.

Caps United, on the other hand, are looking to redeem themselves after a sluggish start to the campaign in which they have drawn two matches and won one.

Lloyd Chitembwe’s side dominated Tsholotsho on Sunday, but failed to turn possession and chances into goals.

They had to come from a goal down to secure a point. The Harare giants have scored three goals in as many matches and their conversion rate has been questioned.

But the Caps United gaffer believes it’s still too early to doubt his team.

“You can’t judge us with just one or two games. We can only be judged after quite a substantial number of games. I believe we are on track and will achieve what we set ourselves to attain,” Chitembwe said this week.

He will seek penetration from his strikers, who include Dominic Chungwa, notorious for wasting too many chances, Leanoard Tsipa and Abbas Amidu.

Meanwhile, Harare City host Bulawayo City in a potentially explosive battle of the cities.

The Sunshine City Boys, under the guidance of Mike Madzivanyika, have drawn two matches and lost to Caps United in the three matches they have played so far. They will be hoping to collect their first full set of points against the Bulawayo side, who have had a good start to the campaign winning two, drawing one and losing one in their last four matches of the campaign.

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