BY HENRY MHARA
CAPS UNITED .. . . . . . . (1) 3
BULAWAYO CHIEFS. . . (1) 2
WILLIAM Manondo scored a brace as Caps United defeated Bulawayo Chiefs to ensure their top-flight safety in a five-goal Castle Lager Premier Soccer League thriller at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Last season's Golden Boot winner William Manondo got the opener with a header in the 29th minute off a good Ian Nyoni cross.
But Chiefs hit back two minutes before the break when the league’s top goalscorer Obriel Chirinda went around Caps United goalkeeper Ashley Reyners before slotting the ball into an open net for his 12th goal of the campaign.
Chirinda then provided an assist when his low cross at the far post was turned home by Billy Veremu twelve minutes into the second half.
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Caps United needed to respond, and it was Manondo again who brought his side level, and in style too, when his acrobatic kick just after the hour mark bamboozled the Chiefs keeper Khulekani Dube. It was his eighth goal of the season.
When the game appeared to be petering to a draw, Rodwell Chinyengetere who has been the team's saviour in recent weeks, had the final say when he fired home the winner with eleven minutes remaining on the clock to end any lingering doubts of United's survival.
Chinyengetere's goal was his seventh of the campaign, with the bulk of the goals coming in recent weeks when the team was playing with its back against the wall.
The result moved Caps United to eighth position with 41 points, which should be enough for them to survive.
Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe expressed delight after collecting maximum points.
“I'm happy that we managed to collect three points, which was very important for us. This is what we wanted going into this game. But all the same I thought overall performance was good, we had control of the pitch and the ball, hence we dominated the game but I am also extremely disappointed with the way we conceded the equaliser. I thought they were a series of mistakes that led to the goal and on another day it could have been avoided,” Chitembwe said.
“I'm sure Lincoln Mangaira didn't concentrate on that moment where he lost possession of that ball unnecessarily. I thought the distance between him and the opponent was too big for him to concede. But all the same he made that mistake and was able to quickly recover from that situation and in the second half I thought the situation was more like the same, we had control and dominance of the ball.
“The way we conceded the second goal where we were not marking was disappointing.We did not come to the party in terms of our defensive principles. Key players were failing to close down the opponents’ attacks as quickly as possible, hence we conceded the second goal. But all the same, after few changes, we got what we deserved, Blessing Sarupinda gave us the stability that we needed in the midfield. He was full of ideas, he played a lot with vision and I'm sure it was from such situation where we managed to get an equaliser. And we continued to dominate and showed the desire to win it and we showed it by the way we managed to score the winner," Chitembwe said
He also lauded Manondo who scored a brace after a long dry spell.
"I'm happy for William Manondo, you know he had gone for a while without scoring and I'm sure this is very good for his confidence and extremely happy with the team performance."
Bulawayo Chiefs remain on 12th position with 36 points, just two above the team that sits on the relegation cut-off point, with three matches remaining in the campaign.
The Bulawayo side has lost its last three matches, and a sense of trepidation within the camp is palpable.