excitement ahead of the new campaign.
Chitembwe is the only CAPS United player to feature in all three league championship-winning teams in the post-Independence era, giving him legendary status at a club that has struggled to win regular league titles.
He was part of the ’96 Dream Machine, the first CAPS United team to win the league after Independence, and was also part of Charles Mhlauri’s record-breaking team that won back-to-back league titles in 2004 and 2005.
It’s now seven years since Chitembwe and his teammates stood proudly on the winners’ podium after winning the league title on the final day of a gripping season despite a surprise 0-3 loss at the National Sports Stadium to Black Rhinos.
Masvingo United’s 1-2 defeat at the hands of Dynamos, on a rain-soaked Mucheke on the same day, shattered Yuna Yuna’s hopes of a maiden league title on a day when a victory would have taken the championship out of Harare and Bulawayo for the first time since Independence.
Today Chitembwe has moved from the playing field to the technical bench and is the second-in-charge, deputising expatriate Sean Connor, who was recruited from Northern Ireland to provide a steely European touch to CAPS United’s bid to be champions again.
Yesterday, the former Zimbabwe international midfielder told The Herald that he can’t remember any season during his stay at the Green Machine when things just went according to plan during pre-season as what happened this year.
The feel-good atmosphere prevailing at the club, said Chitembwe, has sparked a wave of excitement about the Green Machine’s prospects as they venture into the new season, beginning with a tough assignment away to Shabanie on Sunday.
“A lot of things have been going our way during this pre-season period, be it the administrative side of the club or what has been happening on the training pitch, everything has just been clicking,” said Chitembwe.
“This has brought this excitement about our prospects for the new season.
“Pressure is there at CAPS United and has always been there and we just have to handle it.
“Obviously, we have a tough first game but we simply have to go there and try and collect the three points.
“I’m very hopeful, with the group of players that we have, and everything that we have put into our preparations, that we can go there and hopefully come back home with something.”
CAPS United have signed Zimbabwe internationals — Chris Samakwere and Darryl Nyadoro — from former African champions TP Mazembe and the Green Machine officials were yesterday hoping that their clearances will arrive in time for them to make their debut this weekend.
Samakwere, a member of the Warriors’ team that won the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup at Rufaro in 2009 after crushing Zambia 3-1, is in Lubumbashi with his manager Edzai Kasinauyo trying to get all the relevant papers secured before the weekend.
A tricky winger who dribbled his way into the hearts of thousands of fans during that campaign, Samakwere’s career didn’t explode according to expectations and in February he was an armchair viewer as some of the Zambian defenders he troubled during that Cosafa Cup final turned themselves into African champions in Gabon.
While his move to TP Mazembe was seen as a stepping stone into a brighter future, his career stalled and the arrival of such wing talents like Zambia’s Rainsford Kalaba at the Congolese giants pushed him further down the pecking order.
But Samakwere believes that playing in familiar surroundings, with all the comforts that come with being at home, he can re-launch his career and CAPS United will provide that stage this season.
The Green Machine also signed exciting Zimbabwe international winger Rahman Kutsanzira, who left Highlanders at the expiry of his contract and moved to the capital gambling that a new challenge in a different environment would take his game to the next level.
Chitembwe also revealed yesterday that David Sengu, who was part of the CAPS United team that won the league title in 2004, would be the club captain this season.
Sengu was one of the eight players who abandoned the Green Machine after a farcical tour of England in September 2005 but, after his return home, returned to his old club and will be its leader this season.
“David is the most experienced player in our squad and we have to give him respect since he won a league title at CAPS and that is why we have made him club captain for this season,” said Chitembwe.
“He will be the overall leader of all the players and he will also be tasked with bringing issues, related to concerns that the players could be having, to our attention.
“But although David is the club captain, we know that he is not guaranteed to play each and every game this season and we have also appointed Edmore Chafungamoyo as the team captain.
“Chafungamoyo will lead the team, in David’s absence, and he, at least, guaranteed more playing time than David and so it means that the team will always have a leader on the field.
“The assistant team captain is Tapuwa Khumbuyani.”
Connor, who places a lot of value on players who play for the national team or who have won titles for the club, felt that Khumbuyani should be rewarded by the Green Machine with a leadership role for boosting the CAPS United brand whenever he plays for the Warriors.
CAPS United are set to move to their new clubhouse in Eastlea, a two-storey property purchased by the club a few months ago, which is currently being refurbished.
Already Connor is working from the new offices.