25 Jul, 2017 - 00:07 0 Views

The Herald

BACKPAGE 25 JULYGrace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United’s success in the 2017 CAF Champions League has placed their star players under the radar of foreign clubs desperate to strengthen their squads, with forward Abbas Amidu bidding farewell to his teammates yesterday while Ronald Pfumbidzai is flying out to South Africa today Amidu, who played for the Warriors in a 2018 CHAN qualifier, second leg elimination tie against Namibia at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday, is joining Egyptian club Smouha after turning down a number of offers from across the continent.

Zambian side Buildcon, who like Lusaka Dynamos have been using their financial muscle to invest in a number of foreign clubs, were the latest to join the race to sign the gangly forward who impressed for Makepekepe during the Champions League adventure. Sources said Buildcon were prepared to break the bank and make Amidu the club’s record acquisition, splashing more than $100 000 for his signature, but the Zimbabwean forward turned them down preferring a move to Egypt.

CAPS United, in return, have started investing in other players to cover holes created by the departing stars. Yesterday, Amidu threw a party for his teammates, who included giant goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda, who had earlier been linked with a move from the Green Machine before he told his Green Machine colleagues that he remained very much a part of the team.

Reports had indicated Sibanda, whose career was revived by the Green Machine after it had hit turbulence, was pushing for a move away from CAPS United. The giant goalkeeper hasn’t officially commented on those reports, with club officials saying he has been missing from action because of injury. Yesterday Sibanda could be seen in a relaxed mood, enjoying his time with his teammates, as they sang a farewell song for Amidu.

‘’ZiKeeper said there has been a lot of speculation without any foundation, relating to his future and he told us that he is still committed to the team because he values what the club did for him, the trust it invested in him during his darkest hours, and the stage it gave him to make his return, which includes getting a place in the national team,’’ said a CAPS United player.

“Obviously, when the transfer window opens a lot of money is being pushed around, it tends to generate a lot of speculation and ZiKeeper’s case hasn’t been helped by his injury. ‘’But he was there with everyone else today (yesterday) and we had a good time as a club just seeing one of our teammates saying goodbye because it is also a challenge to us that we can also get our chances of getting contracts with foreign clubs if we work hard.

‘’Remember, there are many people who felt that Abbas was finished, who said he wasn’t good enough, after he returned from South Africa and that deal in Tanzania didn’t go through but he refused to accept that and worked very hard to show those people he can play football and now he is on the move. ‘’He is a lesson to all of us.’’

Amidu’s deal is set to be finalised today in Johannesburg and the forward, who also attracted the interests of five-time African champions Zamalek and Algerian giants USM Alger, said he settled for Smouha because he wants a club where he will be guaranteed game time. Zambian international forward Emmanuel Mayuka, who once moved to English Premiership side Southampton for £3 million, has been frozen out at Zamalek. Amidu was set to earn an after tax salary of $4 000, a winning bonus of $400 per match, get a two bedroom apartment in Zambia and two return air tickets for him and his spouse every year, should he have settled for Buildcon. The transfer fee was in excess of $100 000.

But Amidu chose to move to Smouha who will pay him a salary of about $6 000 before tax and also give CAPS United far less than what Buildcon were offering. However, the forward feels his interests will be best served at Smouha and money, right now, is not his main priority as he wants to continue advancing his career. Amidu believes he can make a big impression in Egypt and then make a breakthrough into Europe which would not be the case if he had chosen to go and play in Zambia.

Roving left wing-back Pfumbidzai, a surprise omission from the CHAN squad, is set to fly out to South Africa today after attracting the interests of Bloemfontein Celtic. The South African side, affectionately known as Siwelele, had wanted to have Pfumbidzai at their stable for more than a month of assessment. But they changed their mind after watching more video clips of the wing-back and yesterday advised his club that they want him to play for them in a friendly match tomorrow.

That match will be used by the club to make their final determination on whether or not to take him on board. “The goalposts changed suddenly today (yesterday) when Celtic said they now just wanted to see Ronnie in a match situation for their evaluation and that match is on Wednesday,’’ sources said. ‘’They felt they needed to act very fast because they were concerned he could be taken by others and that is why Ronnie is flying to South Africa and he will play for them on Wednesday. ‘’They have been looking at him for some time, especially in the Champions League, and believe he could add value to their side.’’

Pfumbidzai was one of the stars at CAPS United during the CAF Champions League campaign and scored three goals in the adventure. He has tried his luck before, moving to Europe, but returned home prematurely. CAPS lost their last league match against How Mine, their first home defeat in the league in two years, and the club’s leadership believe their players were still suffering from the Champions League elimination hangover.

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