JOHANNESBURG — Tapuwa Kapini dropped to his knees and wept in agony in the tunnel moments after fans spewed abuse and threw objects at him from the stands following AmaZulu’s loss to Maritzburg United on Sunday.
The Zimbabwean goalkeeper was comforted by teammates and the words of coach Craig Rosslee, who has stood by his embattled captain.
AmaZulu lost 1-7 to Mamelodi Sundowns last Tuesday and 0-2 to provincial rivals United and unhappy fans vented their anger on the goalkeeper.
Police had to intervene to prevent a handful of menacing insurgents from invading the tunnel.
Rosslee leapt to Kapini’s defence, saying Usuthu’s problems started far higher up the pitch than in the last line of defence.
“Sure, seven goals went past him in the Sundowns game, but the root of our problem is further up the field.
“Even though he was our last line of defence, we gave the ball away cheaply in and around the 18-yard area.
“Everyone is to blame for the goals that we are conceding. It is just a matter of a dip in his confidence because we had done extremely well up until now.
“There is no need for everyone to start pushing the panic buttons, we are still in and around the top-half of the table,” Rosslee said.
Kapini’s problems began when he gave a late equaliser away to Bidvest Wits earlier this season through a goalkeeping blunder when AmaZulu were leading 1-0 and seemed to have the game sewn up.
He does not seem to have recovered from that error.
“He’s also obviously feeling the pressure now, but we’ll discuss making changes during the week,” Rosslee said.
A credible goalkeeping option, Aubrey Mathibe, waits on the bench, but the coach did not appear in a hurry to call on the former Moroka Swallows ’keeper.
You would be forgiven for thinking last week was a replay of Usuthu’s early season in 2012 when they lost 0-6 to Kaizer Chiefs and 0-2 to Maritzburg in successive matches. Kapini was in goal on those occasions as well.
The defensive frailties, lack of bite in midfield and scoring form that deserted them last week were troubling signs that AmaZulu have not yet exorcised the ghost of last year’s coach, Roger Palmgren.
Under Palmgren Usuthu looked a team destined for the National First Division until Rosslee was brought in and successfully kept the Durbanites afloat.
Rosslee recognises that he, once again, has to save his charges from imploding.