Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe wants his Green Machine to take off from where they left last year as they begin the defence of their Castle Lager Premiership title away to Premiership returnees Shabanie Mine at Maglas tomorrow.
The Harare giants have transformed themselves into the team of the moment after ending 11 years of waiting for the league title by powering to a deserved triumph last year in which they completed the season unbeaten at home.
They have also become the toast of domestic football, with analysts saying they are the best team in the country today, following an impressive run in the CAF Champions League.
The Green Machine became the first Zimbabwean side to eliminate five-time African champions TP Mazembe from the CAF Champions League after defeating the Congolese giants on away goals rule.
Their fans believe that if Makepekepe can stand the heat, in the cauldron of Lubumbashi where they emerged with a draw against TP Mazembe, they can prove too powerful for most of their domestic opponents.
But football is a funny game and doesn’t usually work that way.
And Maglas has always provided a tough test for opposition teams even though Shabanie have been facing their challenges and haven’t recruited the kind of players who could spoil the party for the Green Machine.
There is concern in the CAPS United camp that the club could be victims of their success as some players have started to treat themselves as superstars, who deserve five-star treatment, after they elbowed TP Mazembe out of the Champions League.
Club president Farai Jere warned his players this week that they need to keep their feet on the ground and keep fighting for honours, in a season that is promising on all fronts.
There is a possibility CAPS United could get a corporate partner into their corner after the club’s leaders held talks with a potential sponsor in Harare this week.
Chitembwe believes their main threat could be complacency.
“For us, the 2016 season is over. We are way past it and it’s now only good for the archives. We won the championship and nobody will take that from us.
“What we are going to do in 2017 will be very important. Everything is quite good for us, the work and the ethics. We are very happy as a team and we are excited to be in this situation.
“I am relying on four key pillars this season, which include physical fitness and also the mental preparation. I am confident that my players will deliver.
“I am confident that they will remain at the top level and I have been very fortunate that the attitude of my players has been very good.
“This season I have a special team. I see the hunger of success in their eyes. I see the desire to succeed and as coaches we always try to make them remain focused and stimulate the kind of performance that we need.
“I want my players at CAPS United to continuously improve and they must surpass what they achieved last season.
“I know that the teams we beat last season also want to win against us,’’ said Chitembwe.
The league programme will get underway this afternoon with an exciting line-up of matches.
The championship got a huge boost last week when traditional sponsors Delta Beverages announced a fresh three-year partnership with the Premier Soccer League.
Harare City will start the ball rolling in the capital when they welcome ambitious newboys Yadah Stars at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
The game starts at 3.30pm.
Yadah Stars defied the odds to win the ticket into the Premiership, at the first time of asking, when they conquered the ZIFA Eastern Region Division One League.
They have a new coach, Jairos Tapera, who has just returned from a short stint in South Africa, but it is the club’s president, Prophet Walter Magaya, who will be attracting a lot of attention.
The charismatic prophet says he is also the club’s technical director, saying he draws his coaching powers from the blessings he receives from praying, and has played a big role in trying to shape a very competitive side which he says could even win the league title.
Tonderai Ndiraya’s Ngezi Platinum Stars will also be at home in the opening match against Black Rhinos at Baobab.
How Mine will be on the road and their coach Kelvin Kaindu is praying for a bright start when they face ZPC Kariba at Nyamhunga this afternoon.
“I think a good start will give us an edge going forward. If you start well it boosts the confidence, but ZPC Kariba as you know are strong at their backyard. But we are ready,” said Kaindu.
Castle Lager Premeirship Fixtures
Today: Harare City v Yadah (NSS), ZPC Kariba v How Mine (Nyamhunga), Ngezi Platinum v Black Rhinos (Baobab), Chapungu v Triangle (Ascot), Bantu Rovers v Chicken Inn (Luveve), Tsholotsho v Hwange (Barbourfields)
Tomorrow: Dynamos v FC Platinum (NSS), Highlanders v Bulawayo City (Barbourfields), Shabanie v CAPS United (Maglas)
Article Source: The Herald