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Caps United march on


Caps United……. (1)……1

Sports reporter

CAPS United avenged their 0-3 humiliation at Chapungu earlier this season when they beat the Airforce of Zimbabwe side at Rufaro Stadium to keep their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title hopes alive, thanks to an own goal by defender Charles Mativenga.

The defender beat his own keeper with a flick header from a Moses Muchenje corner-kick on 28th minute as the Green Machine recovered from last week’s disappointing draw away to Shabanie Mine.

Yesterday’s result means the Taurai Mangwiro-coached side remained within touching distance of the leading pack as they maintained on fourth position on the log standings with 37 points, two behind champions Dynamos with nine games left to play.

Chapungu remained unchanged at 10th position with 26 points, three better than Shabanie Mine who are sitting in the relegation zone.

Mangwiro (pictured) could not have wished for a better result. “We are very much in it (title race), and the good thing is we are still to play some of those teams that we are chasing the championship, so it was important for us to win today (yesterday) to stay within touching distance of the leading pack,” He said.

Chapungu coach John Nyikadzino said: “I’m not happy with the chances we failed to utilise, but overally I’m happy with the performance of the team.”

After the exhilarating clash at Ascot Stadium which saw Chapungu humiliating Caps United 3-0 in June, it was a slightly different affair this time around as the Harare side ground out a slender victory whose significance could prove massive at the end of the season.

Ronald Pfumbidzai and Stephen Makatuka were named on the Caps’ starting 11 despite their disciplinary problems which saw them refusing to travel to Shabanie in the midweek in protest over their salaries.

It was the Caps United fans who did their best to influence the pace of the match as they sang loudly and it was their side who were the first to truly threaten.

Nicholas Alifandika’s header bounced off the upright on 12th minute and ten minutes later, they should have taken lead, but Muchenje ballooned his effort over from close range.

The home side continued to dominate against a Chapungu side that were not bad either, and the breakthrough for Caps duly arrived just before the half hour mark — but in strange circumstances.

A low corner by Muchenje was flicked into the nets by defender Mativenga who beat his goalkeeper Alexander Useni on his far post.

But Chapungu almost responded immediately. Rodwell Mhlanga’s long-range shot flew across Tafadzwa Dube’s goal, but it was Caps who could have doubled their lead towards the end of the first-half, but Tendai Samanja dragged his firm shot just wide as the home side went to the break with their slender lead.

Any thoughts that the job was already done were banished by Chapungu’s renewed vigour in the second half.

Mhlanga sent another rocket from range on 51st minute which Tafadzwa Dube did just enough to tip over before Brighton Mugoni also tried his luck from range some minutes later, but could not find the target.

Chapungu were pressing hard for an equaliser and Mangwiro sensed the danger.

He had to make a substitution which came on 59th minute when he brought in defender Tapuwa Kumbuyani for midfielder Tafadzwa Mahori as he looked to add some numbers at the back.

Half-time substitute Leonard Fiyado could have eased Caps’ nerves on 65th minute when an awkward bounce put him through, but he scooped his effort over the bar.

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