CAPS United will be seeking to achieve what they have failed to do since 2005, when they travel to Maglas Stadium to face their bogey side, Shabanie Mine, in a Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final match tomorrow.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Green Machine has failed to beat Shabanie Mine in Zvishavane in the last 10 years, managing three draws, with the other four games going the home side’s way.
Caps United fans will have to go back to their all-conquering squad of 2004 and 2005 to recall the last time they beat Shabanie away, when they won with identical 1-0 scorelines.
Brian Badza scored United’s goal on May 5, 2004 and Leonard Tsipa was on target the following year on April 23, in two dominant seasons, where they won the title back-to-back with arguably the best squad to be assembled by Caps United. The team was coached by Charles Mhlauri.
These were the only times that Shabanie Mine lost to Caps United at Maglas in their 12 meetings since gaining promotion into the Premier Soccer League in 2000, winning seven and drawing three times.
Save for the period when Mhlauri and his team conquered the league, it is Shabanie Mine, who have been dominating this duel at their home ground.
In their first year in the league, Shabanie Mine obliterated Caps United 4-0 and won 2-0 the following season.
The scoreline was 3-1 in favour of Shabanie in 2003 before Mhlauri intervened.
Shabanie Mine were relegated in 2006, but they still managed to beat Caps United 2-0 before going down.
Bvaru Bvaru returned to the top-flight league in 2010 and beat United 1-0.
In the following season, Shabanie Mine managed a routine 2-0 win.
After drawing their match 0-0 in 2012, Shabanie Mine returned to their winning ways in 2013, winning 3-1 and the two teams drew again in 2014, the season Shabanie were yet again relegated.
They made their comeback to top-flight football this season and in their first game of the season on their return they held Caps United, the champions, to a goalless draw in a match the home side dominated.
Caps United blamed the “bumpy” surface for their disjointed display on the day, and have again raised the red flag on the state of the pitch this week ahead of tomorrow’s match.
Caps United assistant coach, Fungai Kwashi said, while history favoured the home side, his team were determined to turn the tables this time around.
Kwashi admitted they were desperate to win the tournament that would enable them to make a quick return to Africa’s club competition.
The reigning champions played in the Caf Champions League this season, where they reached the group stages, a feat that brought them fame, as well as a financial windfall.
But hopes of playing in the continent’s premier club competition next season are slim for them, as they have to successfully defend their title, which looks highly unlikely at the moment, considering they are currently in sixth position on the log standings, 14 points behind log leaders Dynamos, with just seven matches remaining in the season.
This means winning the Chibuku Super Cup presents them with their best chance of competing in the African safari, with the competition winners getting a ticket to play in the Caf Confederations Cup.
“We played in Africa this season and, obviously, tasted the honey, the niceness of African football. We are motivated to go back, but we won’t put that into our minds going into matches. We just have to remain focused and not worry about the distant future.
We need to take each game at a time and the next game is against Shabanie, so we don’t want to look beyond that game. But playing in Africa remains a big incentive for us,” Kwashi said “We know Shabanie Mine are a tough team, very hardworking, they have given us problems before, so it would be a dogfight because we want to win and they also want to do the same. All things are possible with God. We are taking each game in this competition seriously, treating it like a Champions League game.”
Today: Chapungu v How Mine (Ascot), Black Rhinos v Harare City (Rufaro). Tomorrow: Shabanie Mine v Caps United (Maglas), Bulawayo City v Yadah (Barbourfields)