Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
CAPS UNITED is a football club in conflict with itself.
Now, more than ever, their future in the top-flight looks increasingly uncertain.
They need urgent help given the period in which they have spent trying in vain to put their house in order. They lost the 2019 championship which until the penultimate round of fixtures was theirs.
But things crumbled head-first in the penultimate tie which they lost 2-3 to Ngezi Platinum Stars following a crippling industrial action by players over unpaid salaries and bonuses.
They literally handed the title to FC Platinum whom they lost 0-1 against in the last encounter at home despite playing the entire second half with a numerical advantage after one player from the Zvishavane-based team had been red-carded at the interval.
The pulling out of telecommunications company, NetOne, from sponsoring the Green Machine in May 2020 didn’t help matters either.
The club has plunged from one problem to another. Strikes and threats of strikes are the order of the day. Players have been signed en-masse and resigned in hordes.
Only a fortnight ago, Makepekepe’s match against Cranborne Bullets was nearly cancelled as players delayed reporting for duty at the National Sports Stadium, protesting against low salaries and unpaid winning bonuses from two games.
Over the past two years, Makepekepe have had an unprecedented player turnover rate, losing almost the entire team they had in their books at the end of 2019.
The commercialisation drive the CAPS United bosses have been preaching over the years have drawn a blank. No sponsorship or return on investment.
Makepekepe are sliding into a circus.
They have assembled the oldest squad in their ranks in decades.
And they are enduring a forgettable season. They are so ordinary they can’t win four matches on the spin and they have become so poor even minnows Tenax and Cranborne Bullets can punch at them willy-nilly.
For the first time in their history, Makepekepe suffered a record 6-0 mauling at the hands of modest Mutare club, Manica Diamonds.
They also lost to FC Platinum, a 3-0 defeat at Mandava (last weekend) for the first time since the Zvishavane team were promoted into the Premier Soccer League in 2011.
So dire is the situation at the club that one of their players arrived back home in Harare from that match in Zvishavane at around 2am and still proceeded to a money game in Wedza at 9am. The reason?
“We need money. We play football to earn money and if there is no money at the club, we resort to this,” he said.
“Just imagine, we were in Zvishavane playing FC Platinum and what we got were just promises. And this social team (from Chitungwiza) invited me to play for them in this amateur tournament in return for US$50 and I gladly accepted.
“That is why I am here and I tell you, as long as there is no money at CAPS United, I will continue accepting these invites.” The player cannot be named for obvious reasons.
His colleagues were chucked out for leading a revolt that almost caused the forfeiture of the match against Cranborne Bullets.
Devon Chafa, Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Clive Augusto, Simba Chinani and Dennis Dauda were all shown the exit door as the Makepekepe bosses responded by fighting fire with fire in the aftermath of the embarrassing strike before the Cranborne Bullets defeat.
Half of them, Chitiyo, Chinyengetere and Chafa, were pardoned and invited back to the negotiating table given they had already been cleared to leave.
Chitiyo refused to settle without bargaining.
He has since joined Simba Bhora in the Northern Region Division One Soccer League in a move that has left the Green Machine with an egg in their face.
He hasn’t been offered a hefty package at the Shamva-based club, but he probably has been obtaining reports from his former teammates there, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Webster Tafa, Tinashe Balakasi and Tafadzwa Jaravani, that the club sticks to their promises.
And for a player like Chitiyo to snub Makepekepe to sign for a lower division side just because they stick to their promises leaves a lot of questions about CAPS United’s professionalism.
Defender Jimmy Dzingai, who was promised “heaven on earth” ignoring calls from other clubs to pen a deal with Makepekepe in March, is reported to be wanting out.
Not only him but a host of other players too.
As the mid-season window approaches, more players are understood to have registered their intention to leave.
While fellow giants Dynamos and Highlanders are swimming in healthy sponsorship arrangement with Sakunda Holdings, Makepekepe are surviving by the skin of their teeth in the league.
They are a pale shadow of the club that used to attract sponsors even during the years they were not doing well in the field of play.
The club have not declared bankruptcy, but they are surely crawling towards that.