CAPS THE CHAM­PI­ONS

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Muzi­wethu Hadebe

CAPS United lifted their first league ti­tle in eleven years with a cru­cial 1-0 away win to Cha­pungu United at As­cot sta­dium on Satur­day. It was their fifth ti­tle over­all and they man­aged to de­throne Chicken Inn who to many were sur­prise win­ners last year.

A lot has been at­trib­uted to their pro­fes­sional ap­proach in lift­ing the league ti­tle un­der the own­er­ship of club pres­i­dent Farai Jere. There is no doubt how­ever, that head coach Lloyd Chitem­bwe, who pre­vi­ously won the ti­tle as a player, as­sis­tant coach and now as the head coach, played a key role in the team’s suc­cess.

There were times when the Caps United faith­ful wanted him out of the club but the team’s lead­er­ship stuck with him as he not only led them to the ti­tle but re­mained amongst the nine coaches of the 16 clubs who started and fin­ished the sea­son in 2016. The oth­ers were FC Plat­inum’s Nor­man Mapeza and El­roy Ak­bay of High­landers as the two teams fin­ished sec­ond and third re­spec­tively be­hind the Green ma­chine. The rest who sur­vived the sea­son in­cluded Sun­day Chidzambwa (ZPC Kariba), Kelvin Kaindu ( How Mine), David Mandig­ora (Tri­an­gle), Me­belo Njekwa (Hwange), John Nyikadzino (Cha­pungu United) and Lizwe Sweswe of Tsholot­sho Foot­ball Club. Chitem­bwe also re­vived the game of a tal­ented mid­fielder Joel Ngodzo.

Vet­eran striker Leonard Tsipa also con­trib­uted greatly to the suc­cess with some key goals as he top scored in the league with 11 goals. His 11 goals were part of the 450 goals scored through­out the sea­son, a drop by 52 goals from the 502 goals scored in 2015. United also scored the most goals in the sea­son (45), with the least go­ing to Bor­der Strik­ers (10).

Caps united pres­i­dent Jere im­me­di­ately de­clared that they will be tak­ing part in the Caf cham­pi­ons league. “You don’t want to win the league ti­tle and not take part in the Caf cham­pi­ons’ League, we are al­ready pre­par­ing and want to leave a mark in Africa”, he told Star FM ra­dio soon af­ter their cap­ture of the league ti­tle in Gweru.

Run­ners up FC Plat­inum were left won­der­ing what they need to do to win the league ti­tle. Un­der Mapeza they fin­ished fourth in 2014, third in 2015 and now sec­ond on the log. In 2013 it was an­other fourth place fin­ish, sev­enth in 2012 and fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Dy­namos in their first year in top flight foot­ball in 2011 un­der Rah­man Gumbo. Mapeza could not con­firm if he was stay­ing at FC Plat­inum.

“You never know, you may plan and other things hap­pen, when I came here I in­di­cated to the ex­ec­u­tive that I wanted to build a team that will com­pete well in three years’ time and I think we are on the right track”.

With­out spend­ing and mainly pro­mot­ing juniors and bring­ing in Al­lan Ga­hadzikwa in the sec­ond half of the sea­son Ak­bay would feel he did a de­cent job in his first year at High­landers. Their fol­low­ers will how­ever feel a lost op­por­tu­nity to cap­ture the ti­tle with their poor start in the sec­ond half of the sea­son. They will be happy with com­plet­ing a dou­ble over their ri­vals Dy­namos for the first time since 2006.

Gumbo also fin­ished strongly with Chicken Inn to se­cure a top four fin­ish. Maybe an in­di­ca­tion of what to ex­pect from him in 2017. Dy­namos fin­ished out­side the top two for the first time in the last seven

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