Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
THE mercenary behaviour by CAPS United players in the run-up to the penultimate game of the 2019 season was as disappointing as it was damaging to the club’s reputation. Granted, they needed their plight to be addressed but the decision would cost Makepekepe what was supposed to be their sixth league title. At that stage, the Green Machine were firmly in grip of their own destination.
They were two points clear of their closest pursuers, FC Platinum, who were to face an awkward hurdle in Black Rhinos in their own bid to retain the Premiership crown.
While the Zvishavane club thoroughly prepared for the tricky encounter against the army side whom they would dismiss, albeit controversially, Makepekepe players were staging a sit-in. They were demanding allowances though they had no outstanding salaries.
After missing two days of training while engaging in the strike, CAPS United lost the match against the Mhondoro team 2-3 and with only a game to play, they had surrendered control of proceedings to FC Platinum.
They needed to beat the Zvishavane side in the last match while their opponents had to avoid defeat to ensure their third league title in as many years.
Makepekepe players weren’t physically prepared, they were psychologically down and despite FC Platinum playing with 10 men for the entire second half, they still managed to break their hosts.
CAPS United coach Darlington Dodo had to take the huge chunk of the blame and it came as a surprise when the executive decided to retain him. But, they are somehow right.
“We lost it when we failed to get a point from Ngezi Platinum Stars. We didn’t have ample time to prepare for the winner-takes-all fixture against FC Platinum.
“It was like a cup final but FC Platinum had more hunger than us,” said Dodo.
But, it was the players’ lack of emotional love for the team which led them to down tools at such a crucial stretch of the marathon which most analysts are pointing to. And the CAPS United management have taken note. The team, which early this week announced bumper plans to go commercial, have decided to let go of the ring-leaders of that ill-timed protest.
In fact, the Green Machine have already made in-roads signing players who are willing to commit their future to the club.
“We are signing players who can be moulded into professionals. Players who are good and who the coach can improve into stars. Players are the core products of a football team,” said CAPS United co-director Nhamo Tutisani.
He said football is big business and they needed to be professional in their recruitment policy such that they avoid taking on board ill-mannered players.
“The team will remain competitive. We are in no way an academy. We are not a football school but a well-meaning institution which wants to win trophies, play attractive football and above all make money from football.
“We need to have valuable players, not necessarily young players but those who we can nurture and develop into professionals of the highest order. We have to groom players who can be competitive in Europe as we are targeting to sell them to that continent particularly the world’s top five leagues.”
Tutisani said his team will explore every possible avenue to make sure the team operates on a profit including selling branded water and setting up merchandise shops.
While CAPS United’s rivals, Dynamos have been busy on the transfer market, bringing in a number of players as they bid to win the 2020 title, they are very much aware of the need to take a commercial approach to business as well.
Apparently, the traditional giants face a serious threat from the corporate-run clubs who have been dominating the local Premiership in the past few years.
Already, FC Platinum, one of those corporate-backed clubs have won the title, thrice in succession.
Only Dynamos and Highlanders had such a proud record and this was the first time the feat had been achieved by a club outside Harare or Bulawayo.
Dynamos secretary-general, Webster Marechera, said Dynamos will this coming season roll out a commercial plan which will see the team make strides towards commercialization.
“We are Dynamos and we have to take a leading role in everything. In as much as we want to win trophies, we also want to make profits,” said Marechera.
“We didn’t do well last year but this time around we hope to regain our place.
“Obviously, as a club, we also need to make money. We need to partner with corporates, we need to embark on some ventures to make sure that the club makes profit.
“But it is a gradual process. We have made a lot in terms of effort to ensure we succeed on both fronts in 2020.”
Makepekepe have signed Leeroy Mavhunga from Yadah as well as the pair of Tatenda Tumba and Ishmael Wadi both from Harare City. Dynamos, on the other hand, have taken aboard five new signings including their former defender Partson Jaure and ex-Hwange goalkeeper Taimon Mvula.
Both clubs are still pursuing several key players as they look to get their pre-season preparations in full swing this coming week.