Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
CAPS United appear to be drawing strength from their sensational collapse last month with the Premiership football club’s leadership venturing into Nigeria and Zambia to try and build a strong team capable of delivering the league title this year.
Instead of being demoralised by the events, which saw them lose three of their last four league matches in a monumental collapse of the ages, the Green Machine bosses have been navigating the brutal post-mortem phase with renewed vigour to be champions this season.
They have engaged the services of one of the country’s top football agents to use his influential links, both at home and on the continent, to bring in seasoned and promising players into their ranks.
A number of local players have moved into the CAPS United fold — in what has been a quiet green revolution done without the usual pomp and fanfare associated with such activities – while some are also on the way.
In what resembles to be a complete makeover of the Green Machine, giving the team a different look to the one that represented it last season, Makepekepe are having a facelift to try and induce life into their squad.
The continental blitz is expected to lure players from Nigeria and Zambia with a Harare businessman, with strong links to the CAPS United leadership, spearheading the exercise.
“It’s time to make our contacts work to facilitate (the establishment of) a better squad,” the businessman, who chose not to be named at this stage, told The Herald.
“I will be facilitating and co-ordinating the raising of support for the foreign players who make the grade.
“We are expected to also invite defenders from Zambia.”
Already, CAPS United have written letters, through their administration manager, Morton Dodzo, inviting a number of Nigerian players for assessment starting from next week.
“Please, kindly accept this letter as a formal invitation and request to attend trials by CAPS United Football Club, a team domiciled in Zimbabwe, a member of the Zimbabwe Football Association registered to play in the Zimbabwe Premier Division League,” Dodzo wrote.
“The club would like to have Mr Wakeel Adenkule Okunade, a Nigerian national, to join the club on a two-week official football trial, during our pre-season as from 16 January 2020.
“We also request that you ensure you have a travel visa and a police clearance with you before departure.
“After the trial period, CAPS United, if impressed, may offer the football player a professional employment contract subject to medical and physical examination.”
Okunade is a goalkeeper.
Similar letters were also written to the likes of central defender Emmanuel Arinze Nwangwu, who is a free agent, and is also Nigerian.
Arinze has played for Kaduna United, Elkanemi Warriors, Heartland FC and Abia Warriors in his home country.
CAPS United are also pursuing the signature of another Nigerian, centre striker Sunday Kenneth Udoh, who has played for Sunshine FC.
Two other Nigerians – Kenneth Mike Ehis and Bello Yero – have also been approached and are scheduled to arrive in Harare for the assessment.
Yero played in Romania for FC Vaslui for three years and had spells on loan at a number of Israeli sides including Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Nazareth Illit, Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Hapoel Haifa and Bnei Sakhnini.
The veteran forward has also played in Moldova where Zimbabwe international defender, Alec Mudimu, moved to recently.
“While invitations have been sent to the Nigerians, it’s not the only country, in terms of players, which we are targeting,” an official told this newspaper.
“As long as we can get a good player from any other country, who suits what we want to achieve, we will try as much as we can to get him. The trend, in recent years, has been that we lose our best players to foreign teams because we can’t afford to pay them what they get in those countries.
“But we have come up with a plan that can help us sustain the presence of these foreigners, if they are good enough to make a difference in our team, here in Zimbabwe.
“There is a prize you get for being ambitious and we want to have a different CAPS United that is geared to deliver silverware and also to have a strong appeal to the corporate sector while giving a chance for promising young players to rise through our ranks.
“Last year really hurt and everyone at the club has been saying we can’t have such heartbreak again and the time has now come for us to flex our muscles and create a strong team which our fans and corporate partners can be proud of.”
A weary Green Machine – distracted by off-the-field issues when it mattered most – lost their way in the final countdown and suffered damaging losses at TelOne, Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum to finish third.
An in-house revolt, led by players whose contracts were coming to an end, just a day before their penultimate match against Ngezi Platinum, proved very damaging to their cause and they were 0-3 down in the match before eventually losing 2-3.
It gave FC Platinum the edge, after a victory over Black Rhinos on the same day, with the champions assuming leadership of the race and coming to Harare, for the final fixture, with the comfort that a draw would be enough for them to defend their crown.