Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United appear an oasis of peace compared to their rivals Dynamos who had a difficult week ahead of the teams’ clash in the semi-final of the ZNA Charities at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow. Dynamos senior players refused to train again yesterday at Old Hararians in protest over unpaid bonuses from last season, leaving coach Lloyd Mutasa in a difficult position ahead of the dress rehearsal of this year’s Harare Derby.
But just a few streets away at Alex Sports Club, Makepekepe were busy at work under Lloyd Chitembwe. In a massive expression of solidarity and intent, coach Lloyd Chitembwe was surrounded by his assistants Fungai Kwashi, Leonard Tsipa, David Sengu, goalkeepers’ coach Zivanai Kawadza and technical director Nelson Matongorere.
The rivalry between Dynamos and CAPS United is cast in stone, but there are doubts about the fitness of the Glamour Boys’ senior players. Yesterday, members of the Dynamos executive, who include Graham Mafoko and treasurer Moses Chikwariro, tried to cool down the emotions at their club.
DeMbare and the other two giants CAPS United and Highlanders received a huge shot in the arm with the coming on board of NetOne, who unveiled a $1 million package for the Big Three this week.
While the NetOne deal will see the Dynamos players getting their January salaries, the players were still demanding what they are owed from last season. Only the juniors and a few first team players trained yesterday.
But the situation at CAPS United was different. Chitembwe had all his players at his disposal as they went about their business in preparation for the new season.
The Green Machine literally had a full house at Alex Sports Club and Chitembwe revealed how he is spoilt for choice ahead of tomorrow’s match. The former midfielder said his club was still work in progress after they had roped in several new players that include Brian Muzondiwa, Praise Tonha, Munyaradzi Diya and Wisdom Mutasa.
The Green Machine have also welcomed back into the fold their former players Oscar Machapa, Ronald Chitiyo, Chris Mverechena and Method Mwanjali. Midfielder Devon Chafa also trained with the team.
“So far so good. There’s progress ever since we started our preparations. I can see progress in so many aspects. The guys have improved a lot, they are showing a great deal of desire at training and for me that kind of desire is the backbone of success. I am happy with the mentality and attitude displayed by the players, although I feel it can even be better than that.
“But as a coach, you can never be satisfied with your squad. The idea is to try and improve the team each and every day,” said Chitembwe.
This is going to be their first pre-season friendly after regrouping about four weeks ago to begin their journey in the 2018 season. Makepekepe are the holders of the ZNA Charities,which they won on penalties against Highlanders in the final last year. They had beaten Dynamos 3-1 in the semi-finals and they are hoping for a repeat.
Chitembwe, however, believes in the bigger picture of things, as they look to turn back the hands of time to 2016, when they won the league title. “This game obviously is not a measure of our preparations yet. We are looking at the bigger picture, which is the league. We are going to play more games in the season and this ZNA Charities game is just one of the matches meant to prepare us for that.
“I can say all players are eligible to play on Sunday, but it’s not necessarily about being our strongest squad. The idea is to come up with a side which is representative of what the club aspires to be.
“It’s a process. Anyone chosen to play for CAPS United should use the opportunity to the maximum of his ability to represent the institution,” said Chitembwe.
Highlanders and Chicken Inn are expected to feature in the other semi-final at Barbourfields tomorrow. Bosso are in a massive rebuilding under Madinda Ndlovu, while Chicken Inn have also reunited with their championship-winning coach Joey Antipas.