Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United president Farai Jere has challenged his players to end an 11-year search for the league championship and win the biggest prize on the domestic football scene this season.
The Green Machine last won the league championship in 2005 when Jere was the team manager and Charles Mhlauri the coach.
The former Cup Kings have been a pale shadow of the side which won back-to-back titles under Mhlauri but there is a feeling that they could get it right this year.
Jere has always said that the world’s greatest teams were defined by their success in the league championship and wants his team to become champions again.
The Green Machine finished the season strongly last year after Lloyd Chitembwe took over as the head coach of the club.
In his address at the club’s first training session at Barclays Sports Club yesterday, Jere, who now owns 60 percent of the club, challenged his players to do what they are paid for and leave the rest to the executive to cater for their welfare.
As a show of unity of purpose, Jere, who is the majority shareholder, was in the company of his fellow shareholders — Nhamo Tutisani and Twine Phiri — and the trio took time off their busy schedules to meet the 2016 squad before the first workout.
Some of the new board members, Cuthbert Chitima and Willard Manyengavana, also attended the first training session for this season.
The club’s new signings, Cabby Kamhapa, Dennis Dauda, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Allen Gahadzikwa and Edmore Sibanda, as well as Method Mwanjali and Simba Nhivi, whose stay at the club has been properly regularised this season, were also in attendance.
Winger, Tafadzwa Rusike, is also expected to re-join the team.
The only absentees were the trio of Hardlife Zvirekwi, Stephen Makatuka and Joel Ngodzo who are with the national team in Rwanda for the African Nations Championship.
“We were just welcoming them to 2016 and we were also explaining to them what to expect as a club, the club’s expectations and we were also reminding them about how they ended last season. They ended on a high note,” said Jere.
“So we are expecting them to start on that note, going forward this year, and if they can carry the same form which they had last season, what can stop them from winning the league?
“We are just challenging them to win the championship this year. We also pointed out to these players that if we managed to end as strongly as we did last season, what then can stop us now that we have added more players.” He believes the arrival of players such as former Soccer Star of the Year, Dauda, and former FC Platinum midfielder Gahadzikwa, will add quality to the team.
“We managed to release some of the players and brought others whom we thought were the best. So we should be better than what we were last year and those players, who were retained by the club, received our backing that they can offer a lot to the team.
“We are challenging the players to win the championship. We gave the coach a three-year contract. The good thing is the coach is happy with the bulk of the players he had last year.
“And with the support of the board that we brought in, we brought people who are very technical, and guys who are experienced in the running of football, guys like Cuthbert Chitima, Desmond Ali and Willard Manyengavana, they should help the club to do even better,” said Jere.
Chitembwe said he is happy with the squad and is not going to recruit more players.
“The players that we want to be here are here except those that are with the national team. In as far as attendance is concerned it is good and we have almost 99,5 percent turnout.
“I am happy with the squad. We have some new players and some of them are not entirely new but they are returning to the club and then the inclusion of Method and Simba, who were already here last season but couldn’t play, should help us.
“The main aim is to play well, to be a very good team, to be a very competitive team capable of winning games and our objective is to try and fulfil our expectations and, just like any club, we want to win trophies.
“For me, winning games is what matters, that is very critical. You cannot win things if you don’t win games so the primary objective is to win games,” said Chitembwe.
The coach revealed that the club will be travelling to Mozambique for a 10-day training camp where they will also feature in some matches against the local sides.
“We will have a pre-season for six weeks and after that we would be done. After three weeks we will go to Mozambique for a pre-season camp in Mozambique and play some matches there,” he said. Last year, the club also had a training camp in Mozambique.