By Sports Reporter
CAPS United’s championship dream got more wind following a narrow victory over bitter rivals Harare City in a highly-charged match at Rufaro Stadium yesterday.
Darlington Dodo got the better of Lloyd Chitembwe, the man who had built Caps into a title-winning machine, but jumped ship to join the cross city rivals.
Dodo was Chitembwe’s assistant.
Newman Sianchali scored the only goal that took Caps to the top of the league table once again.
Leadership at the top has changed hands several times this season, indicating an intriguing conclusion to the title race.
They now have 41 points from 23 matches, one ahead of closest challengers ZPC Kariba.
Sianchali – a former Highlanders striker beat Tatenda Tavengwa to the ball six minutes into the match and unleashed a thunderous shot which settled the match.
After the goal Caps, playing a high pressing game that appeared to unsettle Harare City, dominated the first half.
The Sunshine City Boys though responded moments after the goal with William Manondo coming close with a headed effort that was tipped over by goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba.
Caps, however, remained in control of the situation with Sianchali and John Zhuwawo spurning opportunities on 25 minutes.
In the second half, Harare City came back a rejuvenated side and carved out good chances with Tatenda Tumba coming close on 58 minutes only for his effort to go over the bar.
Their best chance, though was on 80 minutes when Manondo watched his powerful header off a free kick by Tumba being tipped over the bar by Chigumba.
Chitembwe said afterwards his players had been overawed by the occasion.
“I have the feeling that the players got overawed by the occasion given the tension before and during the match. It becomes difficult at times to manage the situation. We didn’t play well in the first half,” he said.
“I told them (players) during the break, to play their normal game and in the second half there was great improvement. We created decent chances, but were not as mobile as we would have wanted. We still have more games and we look forward to correct some of the mistakes we have observed,” Chitembwe added.
Dodo was naturally happy and praised his charges for their spirit and determination.
“We knew having worked together with Lloyd, our play was not going to be very different. So we had our own way, we played a high pressing game and frustrated them. Their defenders became jittery and we managed to score. I would like to applaud the players for their spirit. We are not surprised by where we are today because we planned for it at the start of the season,” he said.
Harare City: M Nyamupanedengu, T Chimwemwe, M Nyenye, H Chapusha, R Uchena, T Tavengwa, W Mukanga,(P Moyo’46), T Tumba, J Chipangura, W Manondo, M Vengesai
Caps United: P Chigumba, V Musarurwa, G Goriathi, M Mwanjale, H Zvirekwi, D Mukandi, J Ngodzo, P Bhamusi, C Rupiya, J Zhuwawo (D Chungwa 46’), N Sianchali (T Nyamupfukudza 82’)