CAPS United’s coach Lloyd Chitembwe and Ngezi Platinum Stars, Tonderai Ndiraya have been exchanging pleasantries this week and their admiration for one another’s work is no doubt.
BY HENRY MHARA
But their teams come face-to-face at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow in a match both will be desperate to win and they would have spent the week plotting savagery against one another.
The Green Machine picked just one point from the last two matches and cannot allow the gap between them and their opponents tomorrow to stretch any wider.
On the other hand, Ngezi have been the model of perfection having gone 10 matches without defeat.
Isn’t this match so a tantalisingly set that there is almost an air of certainty that it will not be dull?
After Caps United brutalised Ngezi 3-0 at Rufaro in the second term of last season, this is one team the log leaders want to mete sweet revenge on.
“It’s important to garner as many points as possible in all the matches we are going to play. We are giving this match the respect it deserves. All the matches are important for us and this game is no different we are preparing with that in mind. Being the first match away from home we really want to see how we will fare against a big team away from home. We have done well against the big teams at home and this one will really give us a test of our strength when we play the other big matches,” Ndiraya said.
So high are the standards they have set for themselves such that the two draws they have played so far are a big disappointments.
“I’m disappointed that we dropped points in the last two away matches and it is our wish as a team to improve on that record. We want to improve on what we did last year, and that means our away record is very important and that is one we want to improve a lot this year, if we harbour any chances of landing the league title.
“We lost three-nil last year, but that is history, and we are treating it as such. This is a new challenge altogether, in a new season, in a new year and that is the mentality we are approaching this game with. I wouldn’t want to dwell much on the past results. We have a new team this year which I believe is much stronger than what we had last year. We wait to see what this squad will give us this year, particularly the match on Sunday.
After Chitembwe described Ngezi’s start as sensational and acknowledging the good work done by Ndiraya, the former Dynamos midfielder returned the favour by praising the coach’s personality as well as the work he put to restore the Green Machine as a real force.
“I’m humbled by what coach Lloyd said about me and the team. I’m quite grateful, he is one of a few who really appreciates the good work and I have got so much respect for him and the Caps United family. I really value his comments, especially coming from a champion himself. He did well with Caps United, winning the championship, and pushing the team all the way to the Caf Champions League mini league phase. That really tells you what kind of a coach he is. He lost almost half of his team this season, and he had to run around to assemble a new team, so I respect the work he has done at Caps United. What he has done is a mark of a good coach, and I want to thank him for noticing what we are doing here at Ngezi.”
A trip to the capital is something that Ndiraya should be dreading, and with good reason too. In the five visits he has made with the team last year, he only managed two wins against Harare City and Black Rhinos. Ngezi lost to Yadah FC, Dynamos and Caps United, half of the total losses they recorded the whole season.
“It’s a disappointing record to have lost three games in Harare but that is what we are striving to improve on this year. This is our first visit to Harare and we are hoping to get a good result. We want to remain unbeaten, it’s an important record for us, and that will gauge our strength against big teams away from home.”
The team has looked invincible this far, if not fierce, as evidenced by the 5-0 thrashing they meted against Yadah last week.
Talking about them going all the way without any defeat may be premature at this stage, but its one of their targets. “It’s only 10 games played, and we still have 24 games to play so its still a long journey to go but we want to go step by step, maintain that (unbeaten) record. So far we have done good, but there is a lot of work to be done. The team is still improving hopefully we will keep the record. Such record will help us in achieving our objectives. There are so many difficult games ahead of us, we just need to keep focussed and approach each game with the right mentality and give it the respect it deserves.”