By Eddie Chikamhi
HARARE- Highly rated forward, Rahman Kutsanzira, yesterday trained with CAPS United as he edged closer to a move from Highlanders to the Green Machine ahead of the 2012 domestic football season.
The 22-year-old forward, who can play on either wing or just behind the strikers, was one of the best XI players in the Castle Lager Premiership last year. Kutsanzira’ contract with Highlanders expired at the end of the year and the midfielder made it clear that he would not extend his stay at Bosso unless certain conditions were met.
And reports from Bulawayo said Kutsanzira rejected a US$2 000 signing-on fee and told Bosso that, at this stage of his career, he wanted a club that had ambitions that suited his personal goals.
Kutsanzira was soon linked to CAPS United and yesterday he emerged at the club’s training session, giving the Green Machine the possibility of fielding a dream attacking team this season.
Makepekepe have already lured Darryl Nyandoro and Chris Samakwere from their Congolese adventure and the duo is set to fight for places in attack. The diminutive Kutsanzira had an impressive season last year, which earned him a call-up into the Warriors’ developmental side that played in the Cecafa championship.
Kutsanzira’s former Bosso teammate and 2010 Soccer Star of the Year finalist, Menard Mupera, who was surprisingly off-loaded by FC Platinum despite being one of their top three players last season, also trained with CAPS United yesterday.
Mupera, a veteran defensive midfielder, was the penalty specialist at FC Platinum and, alongside goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube and striker Donald “Dombo” Ngoma, were the three outstanding players for FC Platinum.
Former CAPS United skipper Limited Chikafa, who has recovered from an ailment that kept him in hospital last season and ended his stint at Chicken Inn, is also back at the Green Machine.
Midfielder Courage Denias, big forward Edmore Chitato and former Black Rhinos defender Brighton Chandisaita also trained with the first team.
The group, which included former Dynamos defenders Philip Sithole and Brighton Tuwaya, trained with the reserve side.
The CAPS United training session had an unusually high turn-out yesterday and assistant coach, Joel Lupahla, said they will use this week to assess all the players interested in joining the club.
Lupahla said the technical team was encouraged by the turnout and Makepekepe, who managed to retain the bulk of the players from last season, will make a decision at the weekend to see if they can beef up their squad.
“We had many players coming to train with us this week and, without knowing their strengths and weaknesses, we cannot turn them away,” said Luphahla.
“We had to but give them a chance up to Friday to prove themselves. CAPS United is a big team and many players want to join the club. So we will sit down at the end of the week and make a decision to see whether we will add one or two more players to our squad.”
The Green Machine are desperate to make a huge impact this season. They had a promising start under Moses Chunga last year but their campaign suffered a shipwreck midway through the season before they recalled Lloyd Chitembwe, who then guided them to a descent sixth place finish.
Lupahla said they were aiming higher this year. “A big team like CAPS United can never be satisfied by finishing third or fifth because that’s not where we belong,” said Luphahla. “Our goal is to finish up there as one of the big teams in the league and it’s every team’s dream to win the title.”
Makepekepe began their preparations last week on a low note but they have since increased the tempo ahead of their first friendly match this weekend against Motor Action.
Lupahla said they have been working on drills to improve the players’ fitness since they are coming from a long period of inactivity during the holidays. The Green Machine will use the game against Motor Action to work on combinations and the technical aspects of the game.
The Makepekepe technical team also appears impressed by their new signings who include Nyandoro, Tawanda Nyamandwe, Arnold Chivheya and Conrad Whitby, and have been trying to adapt them into the system.
“These guys are not new to football because they have been playing elsewhere in the top leagues. We know their strengths and weaknesses and we are working to see if they can adjust to our type of play. As coaches we are also happy with the level of fitness of our players.
“It seems they have been responsible enough and they never stopped training during the off-season. We didn’t want to overload them when we started on the 9th since they were coming from off-season. We will use the weekend game to see if they are now in a position to play.”
CAPS have managed to retain the bulk of their team and also in training yesterday were captain Marvel Samaneka, David Rediyoni, Pride Tafirenyika, Charles Chiutsa, Washington Pakamisa, Tapiwa Kumbuyani, Asani Nhongo, David Sengu, Nyasha Mukumbi and Edmore Chafungamoyo.
Club vice-president, Farai Jere, said CAPS United should be judged by their performance in the race for the championship, and not in knockout tournaments, and wants his team to fight for league honours every season.
The Harare businessman, who was team manager when Makepekepe secured their second league title in the new millennium under Charles Mhlauri in 2005, said the Green Machine should build a legacy of winning the ultimate prize.
For a long time in the ‘80s and ‘90s, CAPS United built a proud reputation as knockout tournament specialists and became known as the Cup Kings.
“The thrust should be to win the league championship and we should try to compete and do that all the time because that is the one title that makes a difference between the best team and the rest of the teams,” said Jere.
CAPS United have already hired Northern Irishman, Sean Connor, to be their head coach this season.