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Fresh season, old problems for Caps

WHILE the season looked promising for Caps United, the popular Premier League giants find themselves in what is now becoming familiar territory for them in the lower echelons of the league table.

WHILE the season looked promising for Caps United, the popular Premier League giants find themselves in what is now becoming familiar territory for them in the lower echelons of the league table.

Seven matches into the campaign, the Lloyd Chitembwe-coached side is already in a spot of bother with four defeats on their tally, sitting just above the red zone with seven points.

All four newcomers, Arenel Movers, Bikita Minerals, Chegutu Pirates and TelOne sit above Caps United as the Green Machine are seemingly getting sucked into yet another relegation dogfight.

The last couple of seasons have been ones to forget for Caps and this one is slowly turning into another painful expedition for their fervent fans.

Sunday was another agonising outing for Caps after they were dismissed 1-0 by Manica Diamonds.

This was after a frustrating home draw against ZPC Kariba, which came after their abandoned match against FC Platinum

They are already seven points behind log leaders Highlanders and while it is still early days, they know making up ground will be an uphill slog.

Caps face GreenFuel on Thursday, hoping that they can right the wrongs and start climbing the ladder.

If they need any inspiration, they can look no further than Sunday's opponent Manica Diamonds.

After a sluggish start to the new season that nearly cost coach Jairosi Tapera his job, the Mutare-based club have found their rhythm and are firmly back in the title matrix.

The Manicaland-based side beat struggling Caps United 1-0 at Sakubva Stadium on Sunday for their third straight win of the season.

Halftime substitute Michael Tapera scored the goal with his first touch of the ball after a howler by Caps United goalkeeper Ashley Reyners. Suddenly, their difficult start to the season, in which they went on a four match winless run, has been forgotten, briefly.

Straight wins over Chicken Inn, Herentals and Caps United have seen the last season's league runners-up side move from the relegation zone, up to sixth position on the log standings with 10 points, just four behind log leaders Highlanders.

Their latest victory became even sweeter after all the early pacesetters dropped points over the  weekend.

Highlanders were beaten 2-1 by boggey side Chicken Inn for their first defeat of the season, while second placed Simba Bhora lost 1-0 to Bulawayo Chiefs to remain on 13 points.

Third placed FC Platinum surrendered a two goal lead against newcomers Bikita Minerals to draw 2-2 at home in Zvishavane in what was the biggest shock result of the weekend.

The Norman Mapeza-coached side have 12 points although they are expected to be awarded three points from their abandoned match against Caps United, points that will see them take control of the title race early in the season.

Chicken Inn's big victory over Bosso saw them move to fourth place with 12 points, while their city cousins Bulawayo Chiefs are a point and rung below.

Manica Diamonds vaulted its way into the top six and coach Tapera believes his team has found their rhythm.

"I think we have now struck the right chord in this campaign and we hope to build from this victory as we move ahead in the season," Tapera said after the Caps United win.

The run of three victories has been a huge relief for Tapera who was under increasing pressure from his bosses to justify the huge investment that has been put in the club, including the acquisition of former Warriors winger Kuda Mahachi at the start of the year.

Reports even suggested that the club's top hierarchy were ready to pull the trigger on the former Triangle coach before this sudden change of fortunes.

Tapera will be hoping that his side will continue with their good run of form when they travel to newcomers Arenel Movers on Thursday.

The biscuit makers have not had the best start to new life in the premier league and Manica Diamonds will see this game as a golden opportunity to extend their good run to four straight wins.

Matchday 8 fixtures

Tomorrow: TelOne v Bulawayo Chiefs (Bata), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Yadah (Baobab), Chicken Inn v Hwange (Luveve), Herentals v Highlanders (Rufaro), FC Platinum v ZPC Kariba (Mandava), Bikita Minerals v Simba Bhora (Sakubva).

Thursday: Chegutu Pirates v Dynamos (Baobab), Caps United v GreenFuel (Rufaro), Arenel Movers v Manica Diamonds (Luveve)

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