Sports

Chitembwe turns water into wine

Two months ago any suggestions that Caps United could finish in the top half of the league, would have been laughable.

The Green Machine were going through one of the most turbulent periods in their existence where their survival in the topflight looked under threat as they went on a seven-match losing streak.

But a cursory look at the Castle Lager Premier League table now suggests that Caps United could even finish among the top four.

They are enjoying a six-match unbeaten run which has yielded three wins and a similar number of draws. Finally, the green shoots of hope for a much brighter future are emerging, although their only hope for silverware this season is the Chibuku Super Cup.

Not long ago, they looked doomed and with their financial struggles that often triggered player unrest well documented, it was hard to see a way back.

But Lloyd Chitembwe has metaphorically turned water into wine to transform his side to a team that is not only difficult to beat but also plays true to their giant status in local lore.

They now play with confidence that they can beat any team. They are no longer looking at what is happening below them but at just how high they can rise by the time the curtain comes down.

There is no special prize for finishing fourth but after their horrors, it would feel like a trophy for the Green Machine, that is if they fail to earn their moniker as Cup Kings in the Chibuku Super Cup.

Caps are now just seven points from fourth, currently occupied by the Students, Herentals with 10 matches left.

Their 1-0 defeat to ZPC Kariba at home on June 22 was a nadir for the stoic Chitembwe. But, having taken the team to the group stages of the prestigious Caf Champions League, his belief was finally rewarded with the 2-1 victory over city rivals Harare City in the next game that set the tone for their revival.

Now the Caps United dressing room is buzzing again, confidence is high and they continue to grind out results even when even when playing badly. A hard-fought 2-1 victory over stubborn relegation candidates WhaWha in the previous week was testament to their new-found resilience.

On Sunday, they could have easily cracked against visiting and relegation-haunted Bulawayo City who played with the determination of bees.

But after another grind that yielded a 1-0 victory, Chitembwe could look back with satisfaction

“It was a very competitive match. I thought City were very much prepared for this match. They gave us a good run. I thought we started slowly, we wanted to put pressure on them and play with intensity but we couldn’t do that because our play is based on possession and when you don’t have possession you cannot do that.

“We gave them a lot of space in the first half. But in the first 15 minutes of the second half we improved. Our counter pressing going forward was good. We put up a decent show, but it could have been better.” *Newsday*

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