By Eddie Chikamhi
CAPS United were last night battling to douse the flames in their house after problems erupted in their technical team amid reports of differences between manager Sean Conner and his assistant, Lloyd Chitembwe.
The dispute erupted in a dressing room wrangle centred on striker, Evans Gwekwerere, after the Northern Irishman decided to throw in the forward at the break during their league match against Buffaloes on Sunday.
But Chitembwe wasn’t happy that Gwekwerere, who had arrived late at training during the week, would be given preferential treatment ahead of those who had toiled all week. Conner was on a short holiday in Northern Ireland during the week and did not handle the team’s preparations.
Eventually, Gwekwerere spent the whole day wasting away on the bench while the misfiring Clive Kawinga was kept on the field for more than an hour. Even when Kawinga was replaced, he was replaced by a midfielder, Charles Chiutsa.
Conner was upset on Sunday and refused to speak to the media after the game and tasked the post-match interviews’ duties to Joel Luphahla. CAPS United conceded a late goal to drop two crucial points and Conner believes they would have grabbed all three if they had thrown Gwekwerere into the field when they led 1-0.
Yesterday, the two coaches sought meetings with the team’s leadership trying to clarify their mandates but only succeeded in having a meeting with club chief executive, Maxwell Mironga.
Sources said club vice-president, Farai Jere, was so upset by the differences that have emerged in their technical team he refused to entertain the coaches and only sent a message that he wanted to see a quick resolution to the dispute. Repeated efforts to contact Jere were fruitless yesterday.
“The message from the directors is that the coaches know their mandates and have to operate within those mandates and they want to see a house that is united and not divided,” said the sources. “It will be interesting to see what happens at training today because the position that has been made appears to suggest that whoever feels is not committed to the club should walk away.
“The team has been doing well and it’s sad that only two dropped points against Buffaloes can bring all this mayhem but Gwekwerere, too, has also been feeling isolated of late because, although he has his problems, he can contribute to the team.”
Moses Chunga also insisted yesterday that he remained committed to helping Black Mambas survive relegation despite a difficult start to his term in charge of the police team. Chunga fuelled speculation that he was walking away from Mambas when he was quoted as saying he would consider leaving the club, after their 0-2 loss to Harare City.
That took Chunga’s winless run up to seven games but the championship-winning coach claimed yesterday he was misquoted and wasn’t leaving Mambas. “All I said was that Mambas is a bigger institution than Bambo and if my departure will help the team get the wins they want to survive, then it would be a good thing,” said Chunga.
“That, certainly, doesn’t mean that I said I was leaving the club because there is a big difference between saying I am going and what I said at the weekend. People like to speculate a lot and they like these stories that Chunga is moving, Bambo is leaving, but they have to wait until such a decision has been reached.”
Black Mambas will face Gunners, the team Chunga turned into champions, at Morris Depot on Saturday. Chunga has made a name as a crisis manager capable of retrieving clubs from hopeless situations in battles against relegation. But it’s not going according to plan at Mambas.
The police side has only managed to collect one point in seven games with Chunga in charge. Alarm bells should be ringing loud in the camp as they are currently lie second from the bottom with paltry four points from 11 starts. Basement side Blue Rangers are on the road to Gweru where they face newboys Hardbody at Ascot on Sunday.
Rangers are still winless and will be aiming for their first full set of points. Harare coach, Bigboy Mawiwi, wants his side to build on the confidence they derived from their big win over Dynamos when they travel to Bulawayo for a difficult date against pace-setters Highlanders at Barbourfields on Sunday.
The Sunshine Boys boosted their confidence levels when they beat Dynamos 1-0 last week before dispatching Black Mambas 2-0 at the weekend. Mawiwi’s men had experienced a difficult start in their debut season with many of their games ending in stalemates.
But, after collecting six points in the last seven days, the coach feels the doors might have opened up for more success stories. Their good form will be tested as they face a wounded Highlanders eager to return to winning ways after dropping four points in the last two games.
Mawiwi said they were not going to give the Bulawayo giants special treatment despite their intimidating profile this season. “Just as I have said before, there is no difference between all the Premiership teams. The standard of the game is the same and you can’t really draw the line,” said Mawiwi.
“Of course, Highlanders are a good side, like all the teams that we have played before, but they have been dropping points of late. They have the pressure on their side. We are just taking it easy.”
Highlanders are unbeaten in 10 games and the Bulawayo giants will be hunting for maximum points at home after drawing their last two games against Chicken Inn (0-0) and Motor Action (0-0). Until then Bosso, who lead the table with 23 points, had scored in every game they played since the beginning of the season.
Harare City on the other hand have managed three wins, five draws and three defeats to sit on 12th position on the log table with 14 points. Second-placed FC Platinum will be looking maintain their position when they face Monomotapa in a tricky tie at Gwanzura on Saturday.
The platinum miners will be playing their second game in succession at Gwanzura following the 2-1 win over Blue Rangers at the same venue last weekend. Striker Donald Ngoma is back from injury to give Rahman Gumbo an extra option in attack. Their Zvishavane neighbours Shabanie Mine will complete a back-to-back home fixture when they host Chicken Inn at Maglas on Sunday.
Shabanie currently occupy third place on the log table and were at home again last weekend in the 2-1 win over Monomotapa which left them tied on 21 points with FC Platinum. Football supporters in Harare will have to wait a bit longer for the derby between Dynamos and CAPS United which has been put on ice as the Glamour Boys will be hosting Interclube of Angola in the first leg of the Confederation Cup third round play-off at Rufaro on Sunday.
Black Mambas v Gunners (Morris Depot), Monomotapa v FC Platinum (Gwanzura)
Highlanders v Harare City (Barbourfields), Hardbody v Blue Rangers (Ascot), Buffaloes v Quelaton (Sakubva), Shabanie Mine v Chicken Inn (Maglas), Hwange v Motor Action (Colliery)
Dynamos v CAPS United
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