BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe has made a huge title claim, saying his side has what it takes to reclaim the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title this season.
The Green Machine suffered a 2-0 defeat to Dynamos in their first proper pre-season match at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday ahead of the new season, which kicks off in just over a fortnight, a result Chitembwe brushed off as insignificant.
Instead, the gaffer said he had picked more positives from the defeat than negatives, as he continues to build a side which he believes can conquer the league.
Asked if he has the arsenal this season to replicate the 2016 feats when he won the league title and went on a memorable campaign in the Confederation of African Football Champions League, Chitembwe was optimistic.
He was clear and precise in laying out his season’s objectives. He simply wants to return to Africa.
“It’s every coach’s ambition to win the league, it’s every club’s ambition to win things, so at the end of the day, it’s not about talking much,” the Caps United mentor said.
“It’s about working a lot so that we win trophies. We are no exception, we still want to win and compete at the top level. We are more than capable of doing that, and I certainly believe we can.”
Despite watching his side being swept aside by an Edward Sadomba-inspired DeMbare in the weekend Charity Challenge Cup match, Chitembwe asked the team’s supporters to remain calm and not to read much into the result.
For him, the preparatory match is just part of the grand plan in the bigger scheme of things.
“The game was OK in the sense that it gave us an opportunity to try a few little things, and to give these boys a chance to play. We have been training for almost four to five weeks without a match, and this was our first friendly,” he said.
“So from that angle, it was worthwhile and we are obviously taking some positives going into more preparations for the season. This is only a training game, and any result is expected. What is unforgivable is when you lose important games like league and cup games.
“It (the defeat) was down to fitness. We were not quick enough. We were a bit slower and edgy simply because it was our first game. It’s expected, but by the time the season starts, I certainly believe we will be OK. By the time we hit March 31, I’m sure we would have played four to five matches and I’m sure in terms of these other aspects of the game, we will be good.”
Chitembwe threw in several new faces in the squad, and while there have been disgruntlements from the club’s supporters on some of the players’ performances, the coach is optimistic.
“So far so good, I’m happy with them,” he said.
“They have been doing well in training, and have been adapting to the way we want them to train as well as the demands and expectations. We can’t really falter them for anything.”
Blessing Sarupinda, snapped from Black Rhinos, and the former Highlanders duo of Gabriel Nyoni and Norman Sianchali, who arrived in January, started the match against Dynamos, but made little impact, just like the returning Phineas Bhamusi.
“It’s down to lack of match-related fitness, they are not sharp as they should be simply because they have not been playing training games,” Chitembwe said.