Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter—
CAPS UNITED showed there is a massive difference between the Champions League and the Confederation Cup when the Green Machine turned on the style to crush Ngezi Platinum Stars on Sunday to hand the Mhondoro side’s quest for a maiden championship a brutal reality check. The two sides, who represented the country in the two CAF inter-club tournaments this year, met in a battle that produced a lot of fireworks, but which was dominated by the Green Machine, who raced to a three-goal victory at Rufaro.
Makepekepe thrived in their first Champions League adventure in 11 years, reaching the group stages of the tournament, before being knocked out as the class of their rivals, and their defensive shortcomings, crippled their campaign.
Ngezi Platinum crashed out in the first round of the Confederation Cup after they failed to overturn a first leg deficit suffered in Angola.
Expectations were high that Tonderai Ndiraya and his men would run CAPS United close on Sunday, but at the end of the contest, they were overrun by a sleek Green Machine which could even have roared to a bigger winning margin had they taken all their chances.
Ngezi failed to break down a CAPS United defence that was missing Steve Makatuka, who wasn’t feeling well, and for whom the centre-back pairing of Justice Jangano and Carlton Munzabwa — who were exposed in the Champions League — impressed.
Goals by Dominic Chungwa — who struck twice with his head, exposing Ngezi’s weakness when it comes to aerial balls floated into their area and the brilliant John Zhuwawu — powered the Green Machine to a deserved victory.
Ndiraya says there is no need for his players to drop their heads in shame after their quest for a maiden league championship was given a thorough examination by the champions.
Ngezi are bidding to make history and become the first club from outside Harare and Bulawayo to win the league championship in more than half a century.
The last, and only club, to do that was St Paul’s Musami in 1966.
Ngezi, who have recruited heavily and have become a competitive side since Ndiraya’s arrival, have charmed many neutrals who have been cheered by their good show.
“Our team target is top four and I have said top four doesn’t mean we want to be number four. We want a position in any of those positions in the top four that means we also want to be number one,’’ said Ndiraya.
“We fought as a team to be where we are and we are not going to be drawn back by the result we got (against CAPS United).
“Our projection and what we want to do as a team is to improve on the performance of the first half of the season. We won the first three matches in the first half of the season and we lost against Yadah, we drew against CAPS United and lost to Highlanders.
“And we sat down as a team and said look if we want to do better, if we want to do well and fight, we have to improve on what we did in the first half of the season.
“I am glad we have started well, we won the first three games in the second half of the season, we won against Yadah, we were hoping to get a result (against CAPS United) it didn’t go that way.
“We still need to improve and get a result against Highlanders and the teams to come, and that is not a mean task. It is a difficult task that one which we hope to accomplish, if we put our heads back together, if we get back to the determination I spoke about.’’
He said his men can go all the way in the race.
“I think we can push the race to the wire. We are in a very good position and that good position was brought by what we have done in the previous games and I hope we will keep pushing,’’ said Ndiraya. “So our focus is still there, we still want to fight, we still want to push and push this title race to the wire. We have done well as a team and I give credit to the team.
“We have to fight another day and our next challenge is Highlanders at home. We just have to go back home, reorganise ourselves and do better than what we did and make sure that our approach would be different and get back to where we where and get a result.’’
Chicken Inn assumed the leadership this weekend when they collected crucial points away after they edged Black Rhinos 0-1.
And coach Rahman Gumbo believes they are still within their targets with their results showing the direction they are taking.
“We are going for the championship and getting results from teams like Rhinos shows the direction we are taking. We are still within our targets,” he said.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza also feels his team, which is now three points behind the leaders, simply have to continue working hard as they are within reach of the top.
The Zvishavane side bounced back from the disappointing defeat against CAPS United in mid-week to return home with maximum points from Gibbo, where they beat Triangle courtesy of a Winston Mhango solitary goal.
Mapeza’s troops are now a point behind Ngezi Platinum.
Dynamos, who were inactive this weekend, saw the results swinging in their corner despite not kicking a ball.
Coach Lloyd Mutasa said after the weekend’s match against Yadah, he would be in a better position to boldly declare their title aspirations.
“Things are looking good for us if we can capitalise on those results that were in favour of us. But you look at Highlanders, Chicken Inn, look at the Platinum twins and How Mine. They are all in the mix.
“We have How Mine on Thursday and then we play Yadah at the weekend, and we should have a clearer picture after the Yadah game, then we can see where we are, are we really in the mix and what our targets are for now,” said Mutasa.
But some DeMbare fans, including those who were at Rufaro on Sunday and found themselves, for a change, singing in CAPS United corner, believe their team will win the championship.
Dynamos are fourth with 39 points.
The former champions still have an outstanding game against CAPS United.
Article Source: The Herald