Can Caps switch off ZPC?

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AS the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League reaches a dramatic crescendo on Sunday and ZPC Kariba hang on in the driving seat to lift the title, their opponents Caps United may be on a collision course of their own.

HENRY MHARA
SPORTS REPORTER

United, in their plight to maintain their third place on the final log standings, the Green Machine may just gift bitter rivals Dynamos the title.

Well, that is what happened last season when their 2-2 draw against then favourites Harare City handed the trophy to their number one enemy Dynamos.

So for the second season, Caps United have a huge say in where the title ends up, if that is, they beat Dynamos’ fellow title contenders ZPC Kariba at Gwanzura Stadium on the last day of the season on Sunday.

In the event that Caps United beat ZPC Kariba, Dynamos will have to beat Luke Masomere’s How Mine across town at the National Sports Stadium to retain the title, for the fourth consecutive time in a row.

A draw at Gwanzura would still give Dynamos a glimmer of hope, but they would need to rout How Mine by at least a five-goal margin to be crowned champions. ZPC are on 56 and Dynamos have 54 points.

Looking at what most Caps United supporters are posting on the social media networks, they would rather see their team surrender the third spot, if it means that rivals Dynamos would lose out on the PSL title.

However, for Caps United assistant coach Mike Madzivanyika — who will be in charge of the match standing in for Coach Taurai Mangwiro (away for a Fifa course in Cameroon) — there is no question which of the scenarios is more important.

“It’s very unfortunate that we are in this situation, but we will be very professional in our conduct on Sunday,” he said.

“The best team on the day should win. The champions will earn the title, it will not be given to them on a silver platter.”

Caps United are third position on 50 points, two better than fourth-placed FC Platinum and have already qualified for the Mbada Diamonds Cup by finishing in the top four and the result of Sunday’s match will not alter their status.

If they move, it will be from third to fourth place in the event fourth-placed FC Platinum beat already-relegated Chiredzi at Mandava Stadium on the same day.

“We have everything to play for and we are treating the match like any other game,” he said.

“We should fight and try to finish in the best possible position on the log and as it stands that position is number three . . . so we have number three to play for. Besides, we are a big team and we have a name, and a brand to protect.”

He added: “Some fans might want us to lose the match for their selfish reasons, but as coaches and players our job is to play and remain professional. It’s very important that we win the match and all the players are working hard at training.

“We are going to give it our best. It will also be a special moment for me on a personal level as I will be coaching the team, a very big team, so I would not want to soil my CV by giving away the match mainly because some supporters want Dynamos to lose. What if we lose the match and Dynamos lose theirs too?”

Madzivanyika said Malawi import George Nyirenda was an injury doubt for the match after the defender picked a knock at training this week.

For ZPC Kariba coach Saul Chaminuka — who will be without suspended Tsepo Ranthokoane — the pressure is cranking up in their camp ahead of the decider.

Saul Chaminuka
Saul Chaminuka

However, he said his veterans should be able to deal with it.

Speaking to our sister paper NewsDay Sport after arriving back from Morocco where he was on national duty with the Young Warriors, Chaminuka said: “We are on top of the log and we are under some pressure on both match playing situations, with and without the ball.

“We are playing a very good side so we will need to use time and space very carefully. At this stage, we are favourites and a lot of people are already congratulating us for winning the title, but I think that can work against us.

He added: “That can make the team very complacent so we will need to be disciplined and try to guard against complacency on the day if we are to win the league.

Our target is to win the match because a draw will not give us anything.

“We will not risk by playing for a draw because anything can happen in the Dynamos-How Mine match. We just have to get an outright win to be safe.”

Chaminuka worked as an assistant coach at Caps United last season before joining his current team at the start of the current campaign.

He reckons his experience with the Green Machine will come in handy on Sunday, but could be on both sides.

“My knowledge of Caps United can help us in a way because I know almost every player’s capabilities, but the Caps players also know my style of play, so it’s also an advantage to them.”