Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter—
CAPS United………….………. (1) 1
Hwange…………….………….. (0) 1
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe stood by his players after the Harare giants were made to pay dearly for fluffing good scoring opportunities in a Premier Soccer League match against Hwange at Rufaro yesterday. There was a great possibility for the Green Machine to climb back to the top of the table after log leaders Highlanders had lost to Chicken Inn, but they dropped crucial points at home after missing a string of chances and then conceding a late goal via their former striker Pervington Zimunya.
Makepekepe dominated the match earlier on and could have wrapped up the game in the first half but their strikers Dominic Chungwa and Simba Nhivi were guilty of not converting their chances.
The hosts, however, found themselves ahead 28 minutes into the game when a Justice Jangano’s looping ball, which apparently was meant to be a cross, beat the badly positioned goalkeeper Future Sibanda.
Makepekepe dropped to third on the log standings with 25 points, one behind new leaders FC Platinum and second placed Highlanders. Just like last week when they had to hold on for a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bulawayo City, CAPS United had their backs to the walls again in the last 15 minutes of the game yesterday as Hwange piled pressure on the home side.
After the match, groups of disgruntled supporters who appear to be losing faith in Chitembwe camped at the exit demanding an audience with the coach. Chitembwe was also not happy with the missed opportunities and the team’s collapse in the last quarter of the match. The coach, however, refused to blame his players for the capitulation.
“I think we have very good forwards and these guys have been scoring week in, week out. So for them not to score today and all of a sudden we look at them as not deserving to be part of us, I don’t think that’s fair criticism. I think they have done tremendously well up until this moment,” said Chitembwe.
“I thought the performance was excellent especially in the first half. We thought we had done enough and we knew they were going to come at us and we even told the boys that we needed an insurance goal to make sure we secure the three points.
“But we made some lapses in concentration especially in the last quarter of the match. We lost our shape and after losing our shape then we conceded the goal. “The fact that we created decent scoring opportunities, I think that’s a positive. Unfortunately, we couldn’t convert some of the chances that looked easier to score than to miss.
“But I just hope with an element of luck going into the next game we will come right.
“But I think these boys (Hwange) deserve respect and it was an element of complacency as such. I just thought they had momentum especially in the last quarter of the match, just like we had momentum for probably the better half of the match. These things do happen in football.”
The bad day for CAPS United’s strikers started as early as the second minute when Nhivi received the ball in the box but his shot missed the target after turning well. Chungwa then shot wide from the edge of the box in the 22nd minute. After a period of dominance but with no goals to show for it, it was Jangano who broke the deadlock with a long left footer that caught the goalkeeper off guard.
Tafadzwa Rusike, who has just returned from injury, continued with his good form and could have won them a penalty four minutes later when he was fouled inside the box by Phakamani Dube.
Rusike gave his opponents a tough time and had a rising shot saved by the keeper on 63 minutes and again forced another good save a few minutes later with a fine chip after working his way into the box.
But Makepekepe ran out of steam towards the end of the game and had to hang on as Hwange launched spirited raids which were finally rewarded in the 84th minute when Zimunya controlled the ball on the edge of the box and found the bottom corner of the nets.
Hwange coach Mebelo Njekwa said CAPS United were punished for underrating his side. “It’s very great to get a point. Really, especially in the first half we played second fiddle. But CAPS United undermined our youngsters. “They thought they had done it already but football is played 90 minutes,” said Njekwa.
Hwange dropped one place to 11th on the log standings with 14 points, despite the draw.
CAPS United: J. Muchambo, H. Zvirekwi, J. Jangano, S. Makatuka, M. Mwanjale, M. Muchenje, J. Ngodzo, T. Rusike, P. Bamusi, S. Nhivi (A. Gutu, 65th minute), D. Chungwa.
Hwange: F. Sibanda, P. Dube, P. Mpelele, A. Chuma, M. Mungadze, C. Muleya, A. Banda, I. Muchaneka, G. Zulu (P. Zimunya, 51st minute), G. Mbweti, C. Banda.