CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe has declared his ambitions for the season, and said he will not accept anything less than retaining the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title.
BY HENRY MHARA
Chitembwe guided the Green Machine to the league title last season pipping FC Platinum and Highlanders.
His team was held to a goalless draw by league returnees Shabanie Mine in the opening week last weekend, but Chitembwe said it was just a minor blip and normal service should resume on Sunday when they face off with Harare City at the National Sports Stadium.
Speaking at the team’s weekly Press conference yesterday, Chitembwe publicly stated that the team’s ambition was to retain the title, and he was confident of his players’ capabilities.
“Our ambition is very clear. We have tasted it [league title] and we just want to continue winning it. It’s not a secret, we are in a position where I feel we can and we just have to win it. That’s my honest opinion and the players feel the same,” said Chitembwe.
“We just have to be better than we were last season and I’m happy with their [players] response. They have responded positively and the application at training leaves me satisfied that this team wants to improve. That is very clear and we are very happy with that.”
He said he was pleased to collect a point considering the state of the Maglas Stadium surface.
“The application of the players is excellent and you can’t really falter them for not winning against Shabanie on a very bad pitch. We were happy with what we got. One of the lessons I got from last season is you can still win the league even if you don’t lead the league race from week one. You can also be leaders and still fail to win, it’s very possible.”
Caps United players went on strike building up to the Shabanie Mine game, training just once before making the trip to Zvishavane, a constant feature in their campaign last season.
“The situation has improved, it’s perfect. This whole week the team trained, so we are looking forward to the match. We had more of that last season, but we still managed to win the league. It has become part of us and we are used to it,” Chitembwe said.
He said all the players, except Simba Nhivi, are available for selection against Harare City. Goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda is carrying an injury, but is expected to be fit by Sunday.
Chitembwe appeared resigned on losing Nhivi, who has refused to sign a new contract, with reports linking him with a move to Tanzania.
“Simba has always been an important part of the team. I’m talking of someone who has great cognitive ability on the pitch. He is one player who is very comfortable playing different roles on the pitch and not many players can do that. We could play him as a wide player and as the top man or as a second striker. He can do that with great efficiency and it’s sad not to have him in the group.
“But all the same, we have to respect his feelings. Personally as coach, he is one player I really wanted to work with considering what he was giving to the team. The focus should be on the players that are there and they are as good as him and it’s up to them to up their game so they can give what Simba was giving us.”