Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER enduring a frustrating season in which they took the blows on and off the pitch, CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe says the current campaign should wind up as soon as possible so that they can start planning for a major comeback next season.
The former midfielder, who has seen both the best and the worst days at the Premiership football club, has refused to give up despite going through a difficult patch.
His passion was rekindled when the Green Machine reminded their faithful of the fighting spirit engrained in their brand when they fought hard to secure a late comeback 2-1 win over Triangle at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The win was key for Makepekepe to steer their ship away from the relegation puzzle. The Green Machine have experienced a rather forgettable season and have loosely been brought into the relegation mix after spending most of the campaign trapped in the bottom half of the table.
Chitembwe, who occupies legendary status at CAPS United with the distinction of having been the only one to win the league title both as player and coach, has described the current campaign as a nightmare.
But the former midfielder is optimistic the Harare giants, who have not won the title since the back-to-back feat achieved back during his playing days in 2004 and 2005, will be able to find their feet again.
“We just want to finish the season as quickly as possible because,” he said after the tense win over Triangle.
“Honestly speaking, this season has been a nightmare for some of us and I also want to believe it has also been the same with the supporters.
“They have had very few happy moments. They endured for longer sad moments so I think they just wish we can get over this season and start a new season which I am quite optimistic will obviously bring something fresh to the team. That’s what I feel and honestly speaking I feel this club deserves more and better,” said Chitembwe.
CAPS United’s woes have largely been blamed on the team’s poor financial standing which often resulted in player boycotts.
The club’s leadership have made the decision to stick with the coach and have sent out an SOS for financial backing so as to bring stability.
Before the win over Triangle, the Harare giants had not won in previous four matches leading to a mutiny by the supporters following the loss to Yadah at the National Sports Stadium two weeks ago.
But on Sunday, Makepekepe won back the trust of their loyal supporters with an exciting finish as Emmanuel Mandiranga and Ben Musaka scored two late goals that saved the day after the Green Machine trailed Triangle for almost 80 minutes.
Emmaculate Mawuna had given the Sugar Boys a ninth minute lead, which almost spelt doom for Chitembwe’s men.
But that late burst, in the 87th and 89th minutes, ensured Makepekepe moved six points from the drop zone and will have some breathing space in the last five games.
WhaWha, Bulawayo City, Harare City and Tenax are currently occupying the automatic relegation places in the bottom four. ZPC Kariba, who lost 3-0 to Ngezi Platinum Stars, and CAPS United are also still in the mix.
Chitembwe believes what is key in the homestretch is for the players to have the mental fitness that should enable them to cross the line. He was impressed by the fighting spirit and the energy demonstrated by his team especially in the second half.
“Sometimes with these games it’s not about (the tactics). Of course you can consider the tactics as important but I feel what is more important especially during this period when we find ourselves in such situations is the mental fitness.
“There is so much that is happening and we really needed the calmness to manage some of these situations on the pitch and I am sure in the second half the boys showed that they were calm, they were patient, they were there.
“And when you are calm and composed that’s when you make the right decisions. So I think the second half was good from that perspective but there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Hopefully if we can continue to get the results and at least finish the season, I am sure we still have a lot of things to work on and make sure this team improves.
“I think that’s key but for now it’s just important to focus on what’s happening and we are looking forward to the next match, it’s a very important match and we need the three points (against Triangle) and that’s basically it,” he said.