Moses Chunga walks out on CAPS United
By Robson Sharuko
MOSES CHUNGA’S nine-month flirtation as CAPS United coach, which started under a blaze of promise last year but has gradually turned into a nightmare in recent weeks, came to an abrupt end Monday on a dramatic day at the Green Machine.
CAPS United, who announced last night that they will engage Zifa technical advisor, Klaus-Dieter Pagels, to help them recruit a substantive coach from Germany, revealed that Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe will replace Chunga on a caretaker basis.
Former CAPS United star Alois Bunjira has also been fast-tracked into a coaching role and will be the assistant coach until a substantive gaffer is engaged.
The Green Machine also recruited their former son, midfielder Ashley Rambanapasi, while Kingstone Nkhatha, who left South African Premiership side Free State Stars at the end of last season, has also been lured into the CAPS United stable to provide the cutting edge in attack.
Chunga – who returned for a second spell at CAPS United in September last year to replace Lloyd Chite-mbwe – walked away from the team yesterday after weeks of turmoil in which the club lost its way on the field and also battled unrest among fans.
After Makepekepe crashed out of the BancABC Sup8r Cup on Sunday, following a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Highlanders, the CAPS United leadership convened a meeting in Harare yesterday morning to discuss their team’s poor run in recent weeks.
CAPS United also lost 0-1 to bitter rivals Dynamos in the Harare Derby while also losing by the same scoreline to Bosso in a league match with the decisive goals, on both occasions, coming in the dying moments of the game.
With the CAPS United leadership of Twine Phiri and Farai Jere tabling a four-game window period at yesterday’s meeting, for Chunga to try and overturn the club’s poor run, the coach decided that it would be in the best interest of both parties if he walked away from the club.
“I asked the team’s directors that I should be released from my duties as CAPS United coach, simply because the situation on the ground had become increasingly volatile and the conditions were no longer right for us to continue operating as a unit,” said Chunga.
“When you have an operating environment where your safety can no longer be guaranteed, and you have to dodge missiles when you are coming back into the dressing rooms after a match as what happened in Kwekwe on Sunday, then you should consider your options.
“After a lot of deliberations, we have agreed with the club’s directors that we part ways and I would like to say that, in the end, it was by mutual consent because there are certain conditions that CAPS United will have to meet as part of the deal.
“All I can say is that I was devoted to try and make CAPS United a championship-winning team again and, even as I leave now, I don’t believe that I failed in my mission but the situation at the club, especially in recent weeks, has become unbearable.
“But I am not a bitter man and I wish them all the best in the future.”
Chunga, who won his first five league matches after replacing Chitembwe and also had a flying start to the league campaign this season, was viewed with suspicion by a militant section of the Green Machine fans who questioned his passion to turn CAPS United into a success story, given his strong links at Dynamos.
CAPS United operations director Farai Jere said while his club had been prepared to give Chunga more time to try and arrest the slide, they also had to respect his position that the situation at the club had turned volatile and was no longer conducive for him to produce the desired results.
“During our meeting in the morning, at which we were reviewing the club’s performance in recent weeks, we tabled a four-game offer for the coach to try and turn the club into a winning team once again,” said Jere.
“The meeting was attended by the club’s president Twine Phiri and chief executive officer Maxwell Mironga.
“Admittedly, the issue of the results had become a cause for concern in recent weeks but we were prepared to try and work things out, with our coaching staff, and get the best out of our players and we felt that a four-game period was enough to find out whether it was working or not.
“But the coach told us that he felt it was time for him to move on, provided certain conditions were met by the club, and after intense discussions, we agreed that it was probably the best route for our club.
“As the leadership, we are answerable when things go wrong, the same way we are also glorified when things are going right and we believe that we should open a new chapter for CAPS United and heal all the cracks that have suffered in recent weeks.
“We can only achieve greatness if we are united and, in recent weeks, we haven’t displayed that unity and the opponents have taken advantage of the cracks in our house but we now feel that we could move on with a spring in our step.”
Brenna Msiska, who was Chunga’s assistant, has also been blown away by the changes in the coaching structure and will be replaced by Bunjira, who has been the club’s branding and marketing manager since returning home from South Africa.
Jere said Jongwe, who will start work today, had been engaged in a caretaker capacity.
“We haven’t shifted from our position that we want to engage a foreign coach, in the event that we part ways with Chunga, and the club president will engage Pagels so that he can try and help us recruit a coach from Germany,” said Jere.
“That can only be done in the long term, because there are a lot of issues that need to be sorted out, but – as of now – the club has to move on and fulfill its commitments and that is why we had to bring in some coaches in a caretaker capacity.
“Jongwe might be an underrated coach but we feel he can do well, given all the support, and we also believe Alois (Bunjira) is on the right track and we are giving him his breakthrough because he also brings the CAPS United culture with him.
“When you look at the big picture in world football, you will see that the game’s coaches are getting younger and younger and Chelsea have just appointed a 33-year-old coach while our rivals Dynamos and Highlanders are also coached by young coaches.
“We couldn’t throw Alois straight into the firing line but we believe he can learn a lot, assisting Jongwe, and in the next five games we can tell the direction where the club is heading.
“We have also tried to boost the team, because we know that we need to make some changes, and bringing back Ashley is a big move to help our midfield, which has been a weak link in recent weeks, and he also knows the club very well.”
Rambanapasi has been unattached, since leaving Gunners, and while there were indications that he would join FC Platinum, he told The Herald last Friday that nothing had materialised so far.
The Zimbabwe international, who was also reported to have attracted the interests of South African Premiership side SuperSport United, will become one of those rare players who have played for CAPS United, moved to Dynamos and then returned to the Green Machine.
Jere said a deal to bring in Nkhatha is likely to be completed soon.
“Kingstone is also unattached and he has been training with us and the new coach, who has worked with him before, believes he can be a good addition to provide the goals for us,” said Jere.
“He has the experience and he is very aggressive and we have started the negotiations on a good note and they should be completed, if everything goes according to plan, very soon.”