Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) 2
FC Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)1
CHAMPIONS CAPS United believe they have finally turned the corner in their Castle Lager Premiership campaign after exhibiting their battling qualities when coming from behind to overcome FC Platinum at Rufaro yesterday.
CAPS United became only the second team after Ngezi Platinum to hand FC Platinum a defeat in the Premiership.
After an indifferent period that followed their exit from the Champions League, CAPS United yesterday confirmed the belief by their coach Lloyd Chitembwe that they have put the worst behind them and are back on track.
Gangly centre-back Stephen Makatuka, who made a timely return to the Green machine after a brief flirtation with South African First Division football, grabbed the winner in a match which Chitembwe had hoped to win for the sake of his club’s loyal band of supporters.
Big goalkeeper Edmore “Zikeeper’’ Sibanda, back from a long injury lay off, also underlined why he is the Green Machine’s Number One with a stunning save two minutes from time to deny FC Platinum substitute Hamandishe Moyo what should have been a “ perfect equaliser’’ for the visitors.
Rarely have such reflexes been seen in the domestic Premiership and the top drawer save also won Edmore Sibanda praise from assistant coach Mark Mathe.
While Makatuka might have found the winner, it was Edmore Sibanda’s stunning save that became a major talking point among those who were at Rufaro yesterday.
Makepekepe have now collected seven points in their last three outings. And it is the manner in which they came from behind to snatch an important victory in this lively encounter that must have warmed the Green army, proving that they have regained their mojo.
The hosts found themselves on the back foot just after five minutes when Pure Platinum Boys’ Charles Sibanda thrust his team into the lead following a quick counter raid that saw the alert striker dispossess his marker to fire into the nets.
CAPS United responded 20 minutes later when forward Dominic Chungwa out jumped a static FC Platinum defence to head home from a well-taken corner by Hardlife Zvirekwi.
Just after the hour mark, it was Makatuka’s turn to find what turned out to be the winner. In a similar fashion, CAPS United returned to haunt their opponents with a flashing header from the blind side after he met a perfect cross from Ronald Pfumbidzai.
Mathe said the victory did not come out easily as the champions were “miraculously saved’’ by their big Edmore Sibanda two minutes before time when he blocked substitute Moyo’s effort.
“We are happy that we got the three points, but firstly I want to acknowledge the contest that was there, the resistance that FC Platinum provided. They were actually on top of their game, especially in the first half. “But we are happy because we also showed character to win this game, character, it was key to winning this game other than anything.
“And we are happy that the last three outings we have garnered seven points. The belief is coming back now, the performances are coming back now. But our main objective now is always the next game that we play and clawing up the ladder,” Mathe said.
Mathe said they had a plan on how to counter their technically superior opponents. “In football as a coach, as a technical team there are times when you assess your opponents and say that look, you are second best in a certain aspect, like this time we talk about their ball retention, how they keep the ball, so we accepted that they are good with the football but what you do in turn to eradicate that, is what we worked on, we didn’t give them much room to play. Maybe they dominated first 15 to 20, 25 minutes after that we had neutralised it,” he said.
Pfumbidzai, who was having a game of a life time almost spoiled what would have been a perfect send off for him, as he prepares to leave for South African outfit Bloemfontein Celtic.
The left-back let his temper get the better of him when he was substituted with Cabby Kamhapa two minutes into added time and declined to shake hands with his coaches and those on the bench and headed straight to the dressing rooms. It however, emerged that no harsh words were exchanged between the player and coach Chitembwe.
Mathe said Pfumbidzai’s substitution was tactical change and the assistant coach said they would address the matter with their player. “We don’t condone such behaviour and we treat his actions with contempt but we will work on that. “We will sit down with the lad and I know we will resolve this amicably,’’ Mathe said.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza, whose side remained fourth, said he was not really worried about dropping the points at Rufaro as they are still in the title race.
Mapeza was however, not happy that his players once again conceded from set pieces. “We have to keep working hard. We are still within reach. Ngezi have to play CAPS United, they have to play Dynamos and they have to play Chicken Inn. “We are done with those games. “CAPS United they are coming to Mandava, so we are still in it.
“We are not yet out of the race, it is just four points away. We will keep pushing and see what happens come end of the season. “We came here looking for three points and unfortunately it didn’t happen and I hate to say I am going back to the drawing board because otherwise those drawing boards would be finished.
“We have to go back and rectify those problems which happened today. I think defending on set pieces wasn’t up to scratch. “For the past games we have been conceding, everything was happening from set pieces, so we have to rectify that problem.
“The organisation and competition wasn’t there, even communication, because if we were communicating it means that we were going to be organised but I don’t think it was there today.
“So it is a pity, we are conceding goals from set pieces and like I said we will go back to Zvishavane and try rectify those problems and move forward,” said Mapeza. CAPS United might also have lost some revenue through gate charges due to a confusion of venues as most people were not aware that the venue had changed to Rufaro with the National Sports Stadium now closed for a church convention at least until Monday.
CAPS United: E. Sibanda, H. Zvirekwi, V. Musarurwa, C. Munzabwa, S. Makatuka, D. Chafa, K. Nyamupfukudza (M. Muchenje 46th minute), P. Bamusi, R. Pfumbidzai (C. Kamhapa 90th minute), J. Zhuwawu, D. Chungwa (A. Chidebere 75th minute).
FC Platinum: P. Mhari, R. Muduviva, E. Moyo (H. Moyo 75th minute), I. Nekati, W. Mhango (T. Chinyama 63rd minute), R. Chinyengetere, N. Masuku, A. Sadiki, M. Dube, C. Sibanda (M. Mudehwe 46th minute)