Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United ……………………………….. (0) 1
Herentals …………………………………….. (0) 1
CAPS UNITED last night said they were not pressing the panic button despite dropping their fifth point, in their last two league matches, as the marathon was blown wide open yesterday.
Champions FC Platinum’s 2-1 win over Ngezi Platinum saw the gap between the Green Machine and the chasing pack being narrowed to just two points with six matches still to be played.
There were even claims some of the CAPS players were approached, in the countdown to the game, to under-perform in yesterday’s match.
However, it was not immediately clear who could have been behind the shenanigans.
What was clear is that the Green Machine terribly struggled to impose themselves in this key match as they bid for their sixth league championship.
And, their cause wasn’t even helped by a shocking decision by the match officials to indicate just three minutes of time added on to a second half, which was stopped on a number of occasions, where many thought, at least, six minutes should have been given.
Coach Darlington Dodo, who cut a distraught figure after the match, aptly summed up the bad day in the office on a day when, twice, they were saved by the woodwork.
Herentals seized the momentum after Blessing Majarira thrust them into the lead soon after the restart.
However, Dominic Chungwa, who showed the passion to try and win the match for his team, rescued a point for the Green Machine with a 56th minute header.
But, while Makepekepe failed to ride on home advantage, their former player Devon Chafa and defender Lawrence Mhlanga handed title rivals FC Platinum a crucial win over Ngezi Platinum with late first half goals at their Mandava fortress.
Ngezi Platinum had surged ahead in the third minute courtesy of Mandlenkosi Mlilo.
And, judging by the way CAPS United applied themselves yesterday, the Premiership title homestretch could be an exciting one.
Makepekepe now have 51 points while FC Platinum moved back into second place on 49 points with just six games remaining in the season.
“Today I think we didn’t play the way we wanted. We were blowing hot and cold. We had moments when we were brilliant and, all of a sudden, we would then crumble,’’ said Dodo.
“I think we gave away two points that we were supposed to have gained to maintain the lead that we have at the top.’’
CAPS United were just off colour with midfielder Joel Ngodzo having probably his worst game in the colours of the Green Machine before he was pulled out from his troubles.
The Harare giants found themselves trailing when Majarira fired Herentals ahead two minutes after the half-time break with a beautiful strike.
The former Warriors trialist benefited from sloppy marking by the CAPS United defenders, where captain Valentine Musarurwa was the chief culprit, and stabbed the ball home after Juan Mutudza had provided an assist from the left flank.
The lead, however, did not last long.
Chungwa headed CAPS United back into the game from a cross by Musarurwa in the 56th minute.
Herentals had survived just before the first half water break when defender Gibson Chinobva made a crucial interception to stop Phineas Bamusi’s goal-bound grounder.
But, by his high standards, this was also a poor game for Bamusi.
Then Sarupinda, somehow, failed to control a free header following a fine cross from the right 38 minutes into the game.
Makepekepe were almost caught by surprise just before the breather after Herentals won a free-kick.
Defender Carlos Mavhurume’s blistering shot from the set piece crashed against the woodwork.
But CAPS United were deservedly punished for their sloppiness when Majarira buried a good chance in the 47th minute.
Makepekepe were again saved by the woodwork in the 55th minute when substitute William Kapumha’s shot took a wild swerve with the goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba beaten.
Makepekepe seized the momentum after Chungwa headed them back into the game.
But, before long, they had slumped back to their pedestrian pace.
Herentals are still not safe from the chop despite moving one place up into 13th position with 30 points.
“What is more important is that they have managed to mount a resistance against CAPS United, a team with experienced players and a renowned coach in Darlington Dodo,’’ said Herentals coach Kumbi Mutiwekuziva.
“We managed to stand up and get a point. Although three points were going to be good for us I can’t complain much.
“It’s unfortunate, we should have won the game because we took the lead in the second half, but we failed to protect it and allowed them to come back into the game.”
CAPS Utd: P. Chigumba, V. Musarurwa, C. Rusere, L. Zvasiya, J. Jangano, B. Sarupinda (N. Sianchali, 81st min), J. Ngodzo (H. Zvirekwi, 61st min), P. Bhamusi, R. Chitiyo, K. Ndebele (J. Zhuwawu, 61st min), D. Chungwa.
Herentals: P. Tafiremutsa, W. Chimbetu, P. Chota, G. Chinobva, D. Chitsanzara, C. Mavhurume, R. Hachiro, N. Muchadeyi, J. Mutudza, B. Majarira (S. Cheya, 81st min), I. Benza (W. Kapumha, 53rd min)