Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER CAPS United coach Mark Mathe has backed his successor and former dugout colleague Lloyd Chitembwe to take the Green Machine back to the top in the domestic Premiership.
Mathe, who was part of the technical team led by Chitembwe when Mapekepeke won the 2016 Premiership title and progressed to the mini-league stage of the CAF Champions League the following year, believes the Green Machine have the capacity to spring back after surviving tough challenges in the current campaign.
Makepekepe spent the better part of the season wallowing in the bottom half of the table but they have since shaken off the relegation worries.
CAPS United staged a fine comeback last Sunday to draw 2-2 against newly-crowned champions FC Platinum at the National Sports Stadium. They had also won their previous two assignments against Cranborne Bullets and Triangle.
“I have watched CAPS United play and I think they are still a highly competitive side,” said Mathe.
“Of course football has got its ups and downs but it is usually when the chips are down that you get to learn new things and adapt.
“You cannot doubt the quality at CAPS United and I have also seen the integration that is happening with some younger players coming in.
“Lloyd Chitembwe has a good vision. It’s always difficult at a big club like CAPS United because integration is a slow process and it requires a lot of patience.”
Mathe was assistant to Chitembwe when Makepekepe won their last league title six years ago. He had taken over from Briton, Mark Harrison, who left the club to join Botswana side Township Rollers in 2015.
However, Mathe had to pave the way for Chitembwe later in the year, before the duo combined forces to lead Makepekepe to their last league glory in 2016.
Mathe has since charted a different career path after leaving the Green Machine in 2019, joining Harare City, Bulawayo Chiefs and Talen Vision. He also had a brief stint with Zimbabwe Saints in the ZIFA Southern Region recently.
“When we won the title in 2016, we had a team of seasoned players and some youngsters like Valentine Musarurwa who were coming up.
“The calibre of the players is key. I think all the new players that come to join a team like CAPS United need to be oriented.
“They need to be told what it means to play for the giants, what it means winning silverware and what it also means losing. But losing is something that should not be taken lightly at any big club.
“CAPS United have been winning some games of late. I also liked the fighting spirit they displayed in their last game against FC Platinum. It’s usually not easy playing against a team that is in form and turning around a two-goal deficit in a match.
“It shows they are a team that is putting in hard work. CAPS United needs to build on that spirit. If they can end the season with the same focus, I am sure next season they will begin on the right footing,” said Mathe.
Chitembwe told journalists at the end of their match against FC Platinum that the Green Machine have already started planning for the future. CAPS United are set to face Chicken Inn, Bulawayo Chiefs and Dynamos in their final three games.
“Going forward, I am sure these are the kind of games that we want to play and obviously have an evaluation of everyone.
“Even some of our players that have not been playing regularly, we would also want to evaluate them because some of these decisions will be key going forward.
“We don’t want a repeat of this kind of season. I think everyone has taken lessons — players, coaches, everyone within the football club has taken lessons. So, we don’t want a repeat of such,” said Chitembwe.
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