By Robson Sharuko and Augustine Hwata
Sean Connor’s agents believe CAPS United directors succumbed to intense pressure from their fans leading to their sudden decision to fire the Northern Irishman but his record is so sickening he should just have walked away without being pushed.
Connor was axed on Sunday night, hours after his team had slumped to a fourth straight league defeat and their sixth game, on the bounce, without a win following a 2-3 defeat by Hwange at the Colliery.
The Northern Irishman must rank as one of the worst coaches to ever take charge of CAPS United over a 16-game period and his poor record doesn’t justify the resources invested in bringing such an expatriate coach.
CAPS United are in a worse position, right now, than they were when Moses Chunga walked away from the club at the end of July last year after a poor run amid growing pressure from the fans to leave the team.
The Green Machine were just two points behind Dynamos, who went on to be eventual champions in the race, at the time Chunga parted ways with the club. Now, Connor’s CAPS United are 11 points adrift of Dynamos, who have played two games less, and hopelessly out of the running for the league championship.
Chunga’s CAPS United, at the time their divorce was sealed last July, was just a point behind Highlanders but now Connor’s Green Machine are a massive 17 points behind Bosso in the championship race.
CAPS United have just scored 15 goals, in 16 league matches under Connor, while the Green Machine, under Chunga last year, scored 14 goals in their first three games against Zimbabwe Saints (5-3); Shooting Stars (5-2) and Shabanie (4-0).
In just three league games CAPS United at the beginning of their championship campaign last season, CAPS United scored just one goal less than what they have reaped in 16 games, under Connor, this season.
In 14 games last year, CAPS United had 21 points and Connor leaves the club, after 16 games, when they have just 19 points. CAPS United were in sixth position by the time Chunga left last season, after some of the club’s fans had deemed him a failure, and were just eight points adrift of leaders FC Platinum.
Today, at around the same stage, the Green Machine are 17 points behind leaders Highlanders, which means that the gap has doubled. There are some fascinating similarities, though.
Chunga’s CAPS United lost 0-1 to Dynamos in the Harare Derby last year, the same defeat that Connor’s Green Machine suffered, and on both occasions it was midfielder Tawanda Muparati who scored the decisive goal towards the end of the contest.
CAPS, under Chunga, also lost 0-1 to Bosso at Barbourfields last year, the same result that greeted Connor and his men at the same stadium against the same opponents this year. There is also the Hwange factor as Chunga’s Makepekepe were also beaten at home by the coalminers and Connor’s CAPS United have just been handed back-to-back defeats by the same team.
CAPS United appeared to have held out to a deserved point at the Colliery on Sunday, in a game in which the Northern Irishman questioned the impartiality and professionalism of referee Brighton Malandule, before Gilbert Zulu slammed home a last-gasp winner for Chipangano.
Connor has now been replaced by former Monomotapa coach Taurai Mangwiro, whose first game will be the blockbuster tie against high-flying Highlanders at Rufaro.
Denford Mutashu, who manages Connor’s portfolio, said while he was yet to receive official communication from CAPS United, he felt the directors had been pushed into making that decision by pressure from their fans.
“We will respect whatever decision was made by CAPS United as long as it falls within the contractual parametres,” said Mutashu.
“So far we have not received any formal communication on the events taking place other than what we have read in the media. I am not saying that the media is lying but proper procedures have to be followed.”
Mutashu also hinted that CAPS United director, Farai Jere, could have been pushed when he made the decision to fire Connor and the entire coaching department. The Northern Irishman had penned a three-year contract with CAPS United, renewable every year, which was performance-based.
“Maybe Farai must have gone under a lot of pressure from fans to take such a decision,” said Mutashu.
“Above everything, we will respect the decision of the directors as long as they are done in a proper manner. If it’s true, then it’s also sad because the assistant coach Lloyd (Chitembwe) was not even around because of a bereavement in the family.”
It was a double blow for Chitembwe who lost his younger brother, Innocent, who died in a car accident in Harare on Saturday. Chitembwe had to leave the CAPS United camp in Bulawayo and returned home to mourn his brother while the team proceeded to Hwange.
Innocent played for Blue Swallows during his days and was very close to his elder brother Lloyd. Mutashu co-manages Connor with Joe Mhondiwa, who is based in the United Kingdom. “It’s not proper for me to comment much before I get an official position from CAPS United for now,” said Mutashu.
“What I know is that both parties are privy to the contracts signed.”
Connor failed to change the fortunes at CAPS United as he struggled to get a win in the first six games of the season. The team recently lost their last four games and the final straw was the defeat to Hwange on Sunday. Chunga last night said his thoughts, at this moment, were with Chitembwe.
“I really feel for my young brother Lloyd and this must be a very trying time for him because of the loss of his brother,” said Chunga, who is the chairman of the Soccer Coaches Union of Zimbabwe. “Our thoughts are with him right now and as a union we extend our sincere condolences to the Chitembwe family on this sad loss.
“It’s such things that put football in its proper context, which shows us that this is just a game and there are more important things in our lives than this game.”
Meanwhile, the PSL has put the game between Dynamos and FC Platinum, which has been scheduled for tomorrow at Rufaro, on hold. The tie is outstanding from Week 15.
Dynamos provided three players — George Chigova, Patson Jaure and Denver Mukamba — to the Warriors’ squad that left for a friendly international against Zambia yesterday. The Harare giants beat FC Platinum 2-1 at Mandava on Saturday to keep alive their battle to successfully defend their Premiership crown.
Dynamos will now meet Blue Rangers, who picked up a win against Black Mambas, at the weekend. Blue Rangers are now under the guidance of nomadic coach, Partson Ndabambi, who is also wanted by his former employers, Division One side ZPC Kariba. The Herald
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