Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS UNITED could face Khama Billiat and his Mamelodi Sundowns in the group stages of the CAF Champions League. The Green Machine have joined defending champions Sundowns, Zanaco (Zambia) and Champions League debutants Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique who are basking in a fairy-tale. Ironically, CAPS and Ferrovirraio de Beira played a friendly international to prepare for this tournament. With teams such as Al Ahly, Zamalek (Egypt), Al Ahly Tripoli (Libya), Etoile du Sahel, Esperance, (Tunisia), USM Alger (Algeria) and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the mix, it is likely that the Green Machine could get at least two trips to the region during the mini-league.
Their coach Lloyd Chitembwe remained positive.
“We want to enjoy, but we obviously set ourselves targets. There is nothing wrong with dreaming. This is the reason why we work hard every day and it’s our dream to win the tournament.
“This is the reason why we are in there competing, fighting and working hard as we have been doing. So we want to see how far we can go, but I strongly believe we have a big say,” said Chitembwe.
Makepekepe are in pot four together with neighbours Zanaco and Ferroviario and Ethiopia’s St. Georges which means they will not meet any of the three in the group.
According to the CAF rankings, Al Ahly of Egypt with 45 points and their compatriots Zamalek who have 36 points will lead in pot A that also has Etoile du Sahel and defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
Pot B has Al Hilal (Sudan), Esperance, Wydad Casablanca and USM Alger while Oscar Machapa’s AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Coton Sport, Al Ahly Tripoli and Al Marreikh are in pot C.
Group phase matches are due to start on May 12.
There are improved prizes this year with the teams that made the last 16 assured of at least a $550 000 pay cheque.
Makepekepe vice-captain Hardlife Zvirekwi was on cloud nine following the hard-fought result against TP Mazembe and believes team spirit will take them far in the competition.
“I’m so excited. It’s massive for us, it’s big. The team worked hard to be where they are right now. It all goes down to the team spirit within the group.
“We were united for one cause. Ever since we started the season last year this has been our goal. I think we have achieved the first part of it and obviously we are aiming high to go all the way,” said Zvirekwi.
Zimbabwe’s Ngezi Platinum were among the casualties of the first round of the CAF Confederation Cup following a 2-1 defeat to Recreativo Libolo of Angola.
CAF Champions League last 16
USM Alger (Algeria), Al Merreikh (Sudan), Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Esperance (Tunisia), Al Ahly Tripoli (Libya), Sundowns (South Africa), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco), Zanaco (Zambia), Ferroviario de Beira (Mozambique), Zamalek (Egypt), AS Vita Club (DRC), Coton Sport (Cameroon), Al Ahly (Egypt), CAPS United (Zimbabwe), St. Georges (Ethiopia), Al Hilal (Sudan)