By Eddie Chikamhi
HARARE- Sean Connor survived to lead another day, in his rocky start to life at CAPS United, but his assistant Lloyd Chitembwe has been handed a bigger say in the preparations and selection of the misfiring Green Machine. A day after the capital’s second biggest club decided to reassign Connor to the ceremonial post of technical director, there was a dramatic change of strategy by the CAPS United management yesterday.
Connor met CAPS United vice-president Farai Jere in Harare in the morning yesterday and pleaded for more time to impose his style and turn the team into a winning side again. In subsequent meetings, Connor was spared the axe and will remain in charge of the technical team but he now has to accept a bigger voice coming from his assistant, Chitembwe.
The CAPS United leadership believe Chitembwe has better knowledge of the players at the club and his role should be more than just an advisory one and the two coaches will work hand-in-glove from now onwards. Publicly, the CAPS United family will claim nothing has changed but The Herald has it on good authority that privately Connor has been ordered to involve Chitembwe more in the preparations and decision-making.
What had initially been set up as an address by Jere, at the club’s training ground yesterday where Chitembwe would be handed overall authority over the first team, turned into a soul-searching exercise by a team stunned by its poor start. Jere turned his attention to the players, demanding that they step up their act and repay the investment the club’s leadership have done to try and turn the Green Machine into a championship-winning team again.
The Harare businessman, who appeared clearly upset by the results from the first three league games, said players were going out of hand and it was time to read the Riot Act. The Green Machine have not won a match in three starts this year although they have five points, including three from a walk-over awarded to them by the Premier Soccer League, after their opponents Motor Action failed to turn up for a league match.
Jere said there were no excuses for the poor results so far in the campaign. He said the management had gone out of its way to strengthen the side by bringing in players and also beefing up the technical side but results were still evading them. After watching the side slump to a last-minute draw against Harare City on Saturday, Jere said he felt it was important to address the players.
“We want to make sure that the team moves forward, but psychologically you can see that they (the players) are not there,” said Jere. “The purpose of this meeting was to hammer to them that they should be serious. CAPS is not a small club and that is the reason why we brought in seasoned players to play for this team. So, basically we are demanding results from these players.”
Makepekepe, who face a tricky away assignment against Gunners at Lafarge this weekend, resumed their preparations yesterday. Jere believes yesterday’s address would help them pull up their socks. He said CAPS United have quality players but they needed to find out why they were not performing to expectations. Before the Harare City game, CAPS United had drawn with Shabanie Mine and lost to Chicken Inn at home.
They haven’t also scored a goal in open play, with their only goal coming from a penalty conversion by goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda. None of their strikers has scored in 270 minutes of league action. “We are just reminding them that they are here to do their work,” said Jere.
“The captain promised that starting from this weekend, we will see a different team. At least, they realised that they have been letting down the team. They said they had their own problems which they didn’t specify. But the most important thing is that they realised their shortcomings and promised to work on them.”
Jere also appealed to the club’s supporters not to exert a lot of pressure on the team. He said some of the players have failed to perform under intense pressure that is usually exerted from the stands when the chips are down. Jere also revealed that the players were missing out on a bonus of US$300 per game, which translate to about US$1 200 per month, if they win all their games.
“They should wake up and pick up the pieces. Honestly if you look at last weekend, they were doing everything. They got to the edge of the box but they didn’t shoot. Then what do you want the coaches to do? This is what I was telling them. I want them to wake up. Also I made it clear to these guys that we are not going to look for another coach, we are not even going to look for new players come June.
“There were rumours and some of them were worried about their future at the club. So, I wanted to give them an assurance that we can’t keep pumping out money buying players when we have quality players like them. That’s madness,” said Jere. Harare City remained unbeaten after notching their third draw, to take their tally to six points. CAPS United have five points and are currently 10th.
The Green Machine have also been hard done by what appears to be a fraudulent act done by Zimbabwe internationals, Chris Samakwerere and Darryl Nyandoro, to sign for them on the pretext that they were free agents.
CAPS United signed a considerable huge amount to get the two players to commit themselves to the Green Machine and were banking on their arrival to make a difference. But it is slowly emerging that Samakwere and Nyandoro knew that their contracts with Congolese giants, TP Mazembe, were still running and might have deliberately provided fake documents to dupe CAPS United into committing funds into their services.
Zifa even fought in the CAPS United corner with the association’s chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, leading a boardroom battle to get the players cleared by the DRC FA to play for the Green Machine. The Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, led by Desmond Maringwa, also plunged into the boardroom battles to try and get the players released so that they could revive their careers at home.
But it emerged at the weekend, that a TP Mazembe delegation showed a Zifa team documentation in Johannesburg confirming that the contracts for Samakwere and Nyandoro were still running.
Samakwere is believed to have apologised to TP Mazembe for misleading CAPS United about his status and is being rehabilitated back into the fold. It also emerged at the weekend that Samakwere earns about USS$7 000 a month, playing for Mazembe, and when he was offered a two-year extension to a contract that was due to expire at the end of the year, he put pen to paper.
Nyandoro, the sources revealed, is set to be disciplined by TP Mazembe and his future remains uncertain. CAPS United, with the help of Zifa, can battle for compensation given that they committed huge financial resources to try and secure the two players, acting in good faith, when the duo knew that they still had a year running on their contracts. That Nyandoro and Samakwere even signed contracts with CAPS United will provide the basis for the Green Machine to seek recourse.
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