Englishman at CAPS

BEYOND BORDERS . . . CAPS United new coach Mark Harrison (left) receives the club jersey from club president Twine Phiri (centre) and chief executive Joe Makuvire in Harare yesterday

BEYOND BORDERS . . . CAPS United new coach Mark Harrison (left) receives the club jersey from club president Twine Phiri (centre) and chief executive Joe Makuvire in Harare yesterday

Augustine Hwata Sports Reporter
CAPS United finally ended weeks of speculation yesterday when they unveiled Englishman and former Southampton goalkeeper Mark Harrison as their new coach. Harrison becomes the second European gaffer to take up a coaching job at the Premiership giants inside the last three years with Irishman Sean Connor having had a disastrous stint in 2012.

The country’s third biggest club had been keeping their fans anxious about their technical set up since the end of last year when Taurai Mangwiro dumped them to join Premiership rivals Harare City.

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A number of names, including that of Wilfred Mugeyi and former coaches Lloyd Chitembwe, Gishon Ntini and Jostein Mathuthu, had been linked with the CAPS United job.

But club president Twine Phiri and his executive Joe Makuvire emerged at a Press conference in the capital yesterday with a surprise candidate — Harrison — who arrives after having had stints in the South African Premiership.

There was also a surprise choice for the Englishman’s assistant — former CAPS United winger Fungai “Tostao’’ Kwashi, while Brenna Msiska returns as the goalkeepers’ coach for the umpteenth time while George Gumbo will be the players’ welfare manager.

The affable Louis Maio, who was the manager last season, is now heading the club’s business development unit.

Harrison has previously coached at South African sides Golden Arrows, Black Leopards and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Despite low morale among their players who are still owed outstanding salaries and bonuses, club boss Phiri was yesterday adamant that they “have got their man to take the team forward”.

After being unveiled by Phiri, Harrison said he was honoured to work in Zimbabwe and reckoned that he was relishing the challenge of the domestic Premiership.

“It’s an honour for me to be here today and I know a lot of people will ask questions like why Zimbabwe, and why CAPS United?

“The reason why I made the decision to come is because of the ambition and the desire to get better and grow the club.

“I have the desire to make the club, the biggest in Zimbabwe and to take it to Africa and that’s what I want as well,” said Harrison.

Harrison said he knows local football after working with Zimbabwean players in South Africa and watching the domestic Premiership on television.

During his stay at Black Leopards where he resigned from his post this week, Harrison had the privilege of working with midfielder Abbas Amidu.

“I do understand the dynamics of Zimbabwean football and one thing that I know is that Zimbabwean players are mentally and physically stronger than the South African players.

“The league itself is possibly not as technical as the South African, but those things can be improved,” he said.

Harrison warned CAPS United not to expect results overnight and pleaded for patience from the fans as he demanded a rigorous work ethic from his players.

CAPS United fans have been impatient over a string of coaches like Moses Chunga, Luke Masomere, Maxwell Jongwe, Mathuthu and even Mangwiro after the club’s failure to break Dynamos’ dominance.

“I know that CAPS United fans want results, but this is not going to be a quick fix. I am not here to make things happen in three months.

“That does not work. People have got to get it up in their minds that quick fixings in football are history.

“The point where we are now is trying to build something for the future. So today’s CAPS United fans’ children should be able to see a winning team and this is not built in about three months or six months’ time.

“This should be about 12, 24 or 36 months. If we do things correctly and plan for the future, then CAPS United will have a strong foundation,” he said.

The nomadic coach who has also played for Hellenic in South Africa said the issue of money was never a motivation for his decision to come to Zimbabwe.

“I am tired of working in South Africa for the last four or five years and all they want to do was give a five or six-month contract and say go and win the league.

“It (three-year contract) is one thing that attracted me to Zimbabwe. One club in South Africa getting its rewards now is Kaizer Chiefs because Stuart Baxter has stayed there for three years and now he is getting results.

“If you keep continuity, you will be successful. A team is built on trust, consistency and stability and not in changing and changing. It does not work.

Judging from the tide, it will be difficult to imagine Harrison seeing his three-year contract at CAPS United but for a start, the coach is adamant the he will lay a strong foundation.

“It will be a club that can stand up and be counted. I know the feuding goes on in this country on CAPS, Dynamos and Highlanders. I am aware of it and I am walking into it with my eyes wide open, but at the same time we have to be realistic about the situations’’.

Harrison predicted that CAPS UNITED would only reach the top by 2017.

“We are coming into this scenario now and have to build a squad which is competitive and can move forward and not only moving forward next week, but in 2017 and beyond.

“I have never been afraid to take on a challenge and I enjoy working in different environments with different people and coaches.

“I am an absolute winner and when I played I would go through great strides to win a match. I am saying that as a coach I demand high performance but it does not mean that you can win every game,” he said.

“But I would want to enter every game with a mentality to win and it does not matter that it’s a friendly but there is a way of doing things and we have to accept defeats when he get beaten and hopefully that should not be too often.

Phiri, appealed to the CAPS United fans to support Harrison in his new adventure.

“It was not easy for me to come up with a decision to hire a foreign coach. We were coming from a period where we had lost our coach Taurai Mangwiro.

“I want to applaud our fans for being patient and I think in Harrison, we have brought in the right person to fill Taurai’s shoes and he will do a wonderful job for us.

“He is not going to be restricted to the senior team only but we want him to come up with a development programme for the institution.

“I pray and hope that the results will come our way,” said Phiri.

The club’s supporters leader Onias Matsika also urged his constituency to respect the decision by the club’s executive to appoint Harrison at the expense of local coaches like Lloyd Chitembwe who had been touted as the front runner.

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