A Grin Machine

By Makomborero Mutimukulu

LLOYD CHITEMBWE was uncharacteristically late for work on Friday, arriving at the National Sports Stadium nearly an hour after training had begun.

CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe

There was something amiss about his dressing too – shiny shoes, slim fitting jeans, a floral shirt and a cap that would have made authorities at NetOne smile from base station to base station.

On normal days Chitembwe pitches up dressed like a player for he is the type of coach who finds it necessary to show his player that he can walk the talk once in a while.

But these are not normal days at Makepekepe. After the 3-1 defeat away to Chicken Inn 48 hours earlier the Caps United coach had spoken about sacrificing himself for the good of the club. Had he come to say goodbye to the lads?

Apparently no.

There is every sign that Chitembwe is sticking around with club owner Farai Jere and the Makepekepe players having told him that they won’t let him quit.

However, the key to Chitembwe staying or otherwise may be far from Caps United boardroom and somewhere near the reigning coach of the year’s bedroom.

Chitembwe’s wife Pelagia may be the one holding the aces. The Makepekepe gaffer recently told The Sunday Mail that Mrs Chitembwe is the unsung hero of his life both on and off the pitch.

“Every decision I make sure that I run it by her and her opinion matters very much.

“When I played in South Africa I turned out a lucrative offer because the club wanted me to stay at a club house together with other players and madam was not comfortable with it,” said Chitembwe at a time when the dark clouds had not moved in.

What the Missus has been telling Chitembwe at their Chitungwiza home is open to speculation especially at a time like this when the gaffer has recluded into soul searching mode.

However, the woman who has been through it all with Chitembwe is green hearted and must appreciate – like most of the club’s fans – that her husband may after all be the best man to get the Green Machine working again.

It’s been a rough past two months for Caps United; it’s difficult to recognise them as the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions anymore.

They are shipping in goals like they are playing football for charity, key players have left and several others look to be on their way too.

The issue of money has permanent residence status on the team’s agenda. Makepekepe are winless in their last five matches, conceding 13 times and scoring five.

During that miserable run Shabanie Mine came to the NSS on 26 July, played out a goalless draw and went back to Zvishavane cursing themselves.

Takesure Chiragwi and his men felt like they had drawn a game they must have won. That is just a measure of how the mighty have fallen!

With a return of 14 points from 13 matches Makepekepe are firmly in the relegation zone and their green army cannot point at the fact that the team has games in hand.

The games in hand have proven to be elusive, worth two in the bush. And when it’s highlighted that among the outstanding fixtures are dates against Dynamos, FC Platinum and Highlanders everything comes into perspective.

“We are in a tight spot yes but we are warriors, we will fight back,” said assistant coach Fungai “Tostao” Kwashi.

“Coach Lloyd is here, he is the leader of this ship and we are confident that things will come right.

“Like he always says, football does not lie and there are no shortcuts. We are passing through an unavoidable phase and very soon we will turn the corner.”

This afternoon a clash against ZPC Kariba awaits Caps United at the NSS and the visitor’s coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa has urged Chitembwe to stay put.

“Every team goes through a bad spell but as always, that bad spell will come to an end. He (Chitembwe) has to soldier on as a coach.

Caps United are struggling, we at ZPC Kariba are also going through a lean spell, that is the nature of the game,” said Chidzambwa.

ZPC Kariba have won just one (1-0 over Hwange) of their last seven league matches, drawing four times and losing twice. The Sunday Mail