Makomborero Mutimukulu, Sports Editor
Caps United have decided against tinkering with what appeared to work perfectly as they held TP Mazembe to a 1-all draw in a Caf Champions League first round, first leg clash in Lubumbashi last weekend.
The two teams get down to some unfinished business at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon with a place in the group stages of Africa’s blue riband club competition at stake.
Qualification for the group phase comes with a guaranteed $550 000 windfall and, unlike their cash rich opponents, Caps United badly need this dole.
There are likely to be only two changes to the Makepekepe set up.One of the changes is personnel related, Tafadzwa Rusike set to come in and fill the hole created by the suspension of playmaker Ronald “Rooney” Chitiyo.
The other one has to do with working tools, goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda will wear a new pair of gloves after the ones he used in the first leg were thrown into the bin by club owner Farai Jere.
Sibanda wore worn out gloves in the first leg and there were suggestions that they might have played a part in the ninth minute howler that gifted TP Mazembe their equaliser.
Chitiyo is suspended having picked up a yellow card against Lioli for needlessly taking off his shirt – after a bit of a struggle – as he celebrated a goal and followed that up with another caution last weekend.
Whilst the yellow card against Lioli was needless, the one he picked away to Mazembe was for the team.
Chitiyo tripped his man as the home side was breaking away on the transition at a time when Makepekepe’s defensive lines were as disorganised as Donald Trump’s hair.
Although he didn’t give much away at his team’s Friday workout Chitembwe appeared to have decided on giving Rusike the number 10 role ahead of Joel Ngodzo.
Ngodzo, just like Chitiyo, is a ball player, one who could be argued to be better than Rusike.
However, the former Highlanders and FC Platinum is susceptible to being bullied out of the game.
On the flip side Rusike sticks out when the going gets rough and tough and put up a disciplined show when he replaced Phineas Bhamusi in the first leg.
Bhamusi, who is called Baba Tino in the Makepekepe dressing room, was not at his best at Stade TP Mazembe but still retains the confidence of Chitembwe.
Ronald Pfumbidzai has returned to fitness but is unlikely to immediately bounce back into the starting XI with Valentine Musarurwa set to get an extended run at left full back. Chitembwe certified his charges ready for what is probably the biggest Caps United match in history.
“I am satisfied with the way we have prepared and I can confidently say we are up for the task,” he said Friday.
This gigantic clash comes at a time when Makepekepe remember the passing on of the trio of Blessing Makunike, Shingirai Arlon and Gary Mashoko 13 years ago.
Current skipper Moses Muchenje was only 13 when tragedy struck but appreciates what this game means at such a time.
“I was around 12 when that tragedy hit Caps United and can remember very well how it touched the whole nation,” he said.
“Coincidentally, Caps United’s biggest ever game has come during the same week Yogo Yogo (Blessing Makunike), Gary Mashoko and Shingi Arlon died 13 years go.
“We have been talking about it and as the skipper I would want to play my heart out in their honour. As a team we should win this game against Mazembe and dedicate it to our fallen heroes.
“But, we can’t do it without the backing of our fans, they should come in numbers and make noise,” he said.
Caps United Probable Line Up
E Sibanda, H Zvirekwi, D Dauda, J Jangano, V Musarurwa, M Muchenje, D Chafa, T Rusike, P Bhamusi, S Nhivi, A Amidu.