Caps United (2) 2
Manica Diamonds 0
It was a memorable start to the new season for Caps United as they recorded a victory over Manica Diamonds at the National Sports Stadium yesterday, with much of the damage being done by goals at the extreme end of the first half.
A frantic start to the match by the Lloyd Chitembwe-coached side saw Joseph Tulani scrambling in at close range just three minutes into the game, capitalising on a howler by goalkeeper Jorum Muchambo who fumbled a cross from Godknows Murwira.
This was a sign of what was to come during a lively first half for the Green Machine in which they enjoyed ball possession against a visiting side who were happy to sit back and defend.
Returning Blessing Sarupinda doubled the lead at the stroke of halftime, with a goal they fully deserved, stroking the ball past a badly-exposed Muchambo after his defenders had failed to deal with a simple high ball from the back.
But the game wasn’t anywhere near as one-sided as the scoreline suggests, with Manica Diamonds launching a spirited second half onslaught on Caps United especially after the introduction of Bret Amidu, although they struggled to create meaningful chances to trouble goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga.
United finished the match with 10 men after Tulani was shown a straight red card with three minutes remaining for a high stud up challenge on the menacing Amidu.
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The victory took the hosts to the top of the log standings after the opening round of games, and Chitembwe was left "extremely happy."
“It was a very good performance, the boys played well especially in the first half," Chitembwe said.
“The performance gives credibility to our preparations and I’m extremely happy for the boys. They really wanted it and I hope they will maintain the same type of hunger and desire in the next round of games.”
Chitembwe admitted his side dropped their intensity in the second half, but said the move was deliberate.
“There was no way we were going to dominate the match for the entire 90 minutes. We had our dominance in the first half and we got what we wanted. So to play like we were chasing the game, like they were obviously going to leave us vulnerable. So deliberately, we slowed down hoping to catch them on a counter. I’m happy with how the boys applied themselves in that second half because that is the way we had planned.”
Manica Diamonds coach Jairos Tapera bemoaned the “silly mistakes” that gifted the opponents goals.
“We lost the match in the first half. Caps wanted it more and they got the two goals but probably because of our failure to deal with some simple things. We failed to track their defenders and midfielders. They had too much space to operate. We made two very silly mistakes that resulted in two goals. The second half was better after we made some changes. We did put a lot of intensity on our play and with a bit of luck we could have gotten a goal.”
Both coaches paraded their new acquisitions from a busy transfer window. Chitembwe had four new faces on the line-up but it was the former Dynamos wingback Murwira who made a huge impression, with his crosses from the right causing a lot of havoc in the opposition box.
It was from one of his precise crosses that the Green Machine took the lead.
Zizou, as he is affectionately known, beat his marker before he let fly a firm cross which Muchambo failed to handle, leaving Tulani with a simple task of pushing the ball over the line.
Before that, William Manondo had forced a good save from Muchambo in a frantic opening minutes as the home side came out of the blocks at pace.
Chitembwe’s men continued to look dangerous and created decent chances, but had to wait until the final minutes of the first half to consolidate their lead, thanks to Sarupinda who received a loose ball in Diamonds’ final third, and was afforded too much space to fire home.
The second half belonged to Manica Diamonds although their dominance of possession couldn't translate into chances.
The only time when they made Mateyaunga to work was when he had to deal with a miskicked cross from the right, which was threatening to dip inside his post but the goalkeeper was alert to push the ball on to the crossbar and over.
All in all, it was a day to forget for the visitors and a day to remember for the hosts whose victory was well deserved, but one which required plenty of effort and determination.
Caps United: T Mateyaunga, G Murwira, I Zambezi, P Musaka, K Madzongwe, D Chafa, B Sarupinda (H Chapusha, 88'), J Tulani, P Bamusi, C Rupiya (J Daka, 79'), W Manondo
Manica Diamonds: J Muchambo, L Masibhera, B Chikwenya, K Gwao, L Chakoroma, T Mavhunga, J Takunda (P Manhanga, 46', M Tapera (B Amidu, 46'), R Kawondera (T Chamboko, 46'), G Bero(F Binzi, 59'), D Ngoma (C Teguru, 59')