By Godknows Matarutse
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe is expecting a tough return leg against five-time African champions TP Mazembe as they bid to qualify for the African Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
The Green Machine will host the DR Congo champions at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday for the second leg of the final qualifier with the tie delicately poised at 1-1 following last Sunday’s first leg in Lubumbashi.
Abbas Amidu gave Makepekepe the lead with only 44 seconds on the clock while Zambian forward Rainford Kalaba equalised for the former African champions in the 12th minute.
A goalless draw could see the Zimbabwean champions progress to the group stages of the continent’s premier inter-club competition but Chitembwe knows there is still a long way to go before they can pop the champaigne bottles.
“One thing for sure is that they will come at us and we won’t play differently from the way we played in DRC. We will apply ourselves in the best way that we know can give us a positive result out of the game,” Chitembwe said at a brief briefing yesterday.
“One thing for certain is that they are a very good team and we are going into this game with a better understanding of how they play and we are in a good position to know the right decisions based on what we saw from the first leg. We are not bullish, very respectful of our opponents.”
The Green Machine has been boosted by the return of left back Ronald Pfumbidzayi who missed the first leg due to injury.
In his absence, young defender Valentine Musarurwa was selected at left back where he put in a decent shift against the speedy Mazembe forwards Solomon Asante and Kalaba.
“He is not exactly fully fit but he is training with the group and I am sure he will participate on Sunday,” Chitembwe said.
Meanwhile, CAPS United chief executive Cuthbert Chitima yesterday defended the club’s decision to hike gate charges for Sunday’s encounter.
Makepekepe hiked the cheapest ticket for the game from $3 to $5 while those willing to sit in the VIP will have to pay $20 with the VVIP costing $50.
“The reason why we increased charges is that the cost of hosting these teams is enormous; it’s not anything that is small,” Chitima said.
“If you look at our match against Lioli FC, the referees were coming from Botswana which was slightly cheaper for us but in this case, the match officials are coming from Seychelles, and just to accommodate them, including airfares and allowances, it’s close to $20 000.
“I have got the budget here with me and just to host this match it’s coming up to over $37 000 so all we are asking from our fans is that this is the time we need them the most to support the team by paying that $5. We know times are hard but this is the time we need their support.”
TP Mazembe are expected to arrive in Harare this afternoon aboard the club’s private jet with a delegation of 100 people. Daily News