BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe is bubbling with confidence after injecting speed and youthful exuberance into an ageing and slow squad from last season.
The Green Machine endured a woeful campaign where they finished 30 points behind champions FC Platinum.
An overhaul was a requirement and Chitembwe responded by shipping out some of the older players to accommodate the younger and quicker players ahead of the 2019 campaign.
Chitembwe is not one coach who likes to give away much when he faces the media, but of late he has been looking refreshed and reinvigorated and willing to share the excitement that is flowing in his squad.
He believes the squad he has assembled this season has the pedigree to challenge for the championship.
While the 2016 championship winning coach acknowledges that his team had a poor season by their standards last term, he backs the side he has assembled to go all the way.
Chitembwe said his squad differed fundamentally from the one that did duty in the previous season in that it was relatively young and has pace.
“This season we have a better squad than last season, in terms of work ethic and the desire to achieve. Even looking at the demographic structure of the side, we have a relatively young squad which gives us speed, which we need especially in transition. Last season, we lacked that so this squad gives me the confidence and belief,” Chitembwe said.
The Harare giants have been one of the busiest teams during the transfer window capturing the likes of former Highlanders forwards Gabriel Nyoni and Newman Sianchali, while speedy winger Phineas Bhamusi rejoined after a successful spell with Lowveld side Triangle.
They also took on board Clive Rupiya, who was at Chapungu last season, while there is an expected return to action of Ronald Chitiyo, who missed the whole of last season due to injury.
They have retained the experience of Method Mwanjali and Hardlife Zvirekwi and Chitembwe feels he has struck the right balance, which should give the Green Machine fans reason for renewed optimism.
With a challenge match against Dynamos on Sunday, Chitembwe is not too concerned about the outcome as he continues to sharpen his machine for the bigger tasks ahead.
Expect a few experiments in this one.
He acknowledges that his charges have not yet reached the fitness level that he envisages as the new season draws nearer.
The technical and tactical aspects are not yet on point either, but come March 30, he believes his machine will be running smooth.
“Look, we only have five weeks of preparations and I would say the players have not reached the level we want them to be in terms of fitness, technical, tactical as well as physiological aspects,” he said.
“We are in pre-season and this match against Dynamos will serve that purpose to prepare for the new campaign. It will give us the opportunity to try a few things including combinations,” he said.
While Caps’ confidence is high, Dynamos are just a big blue bubble, after what started off as a difficult transfer campaign seemingly ended with good results, especially with the arrival of a foreign contingent that is full of promise.
Never mind the match tomorrow, this season is full of promise and excitement in the topflight.