By Grace Chingoma
It might have needed exactly three months, 11 matches and about 17 hours but, finally, deep in time added on yesterday, CAPS United finally got it right and won a Castle Lager Premiership tie at the National Sports Stadium. Where does one really start in this drama?
The chaotic scenes that erupted, both on the field and in the stands, as the Green Machine family finally celebrated a victory?
Or David Rediyon, who rose from the substitute’s bench to fire home a double, including the winner, and running the entire length of the pitch, with all his team-mates trailing him in a wave of wild celebrations after the winning goal had gone in?
Maybe the rare sight of all the CAPS United substitutes spilling onto the pitch and joining the others in the celebrations caught the eye? Or Shingi Kawondera, without his jersey, and dancing on the National Sports Stadium track as he saluted the fans who had backed their team all the way on an emotional day for CAPS United?
Maybe the sight of Twine Phiri and Farai Jere, clearly battling for breath, as they jumped up and down in the VIP Enclosure in delirium, caught the eye? Whichever way you are going to look at this story, this was a special victory for CAPS United, made even sweeter by the fact that the winner was driven home in the final minutes of the tie.
CAPS United, who last won a match against Hardbody on June 10, also bounced back to winning ways against the same team exactly three months after that last contest.
Edmore “ZiKeeper” Sibanda was the hero when the two teams last met but since then a lot has changed, the big ‘keeper is not at CAPS anymore, his coach Sean Connor could just watch the game from the stands and where Hardbody had Tavaka Gumbo as coach, they now had Godfrey Tamirepi.
Rediyoni was the hero this time as he struck in the second minute of the added time for the decisive goal to give CAPS United a victory, against an opposition reduced to 10-man in the second half, their industry deserved.
The lanky midfielder struck sweetly from an angle after defender Tawanda Munyanduri had drove acres of space to set him up and the players wildly celebrated the goal with Rediyoni running a 100m stretch.
The fans also broke into song “Tahwina Tahwinawo” as they could not believe that a victory had come at long last. And this victory puts CAP United in good shape ahead of their clash against Motor Action in the Mbada Diamonds Cup on Saturday in Bindura.
Hardbody had cancelled Rediyon’s earlier goal when Callisto Maheya, barely seconds after coming into the match, scored from a rebound in the 69th minute after the initial effort by Jacob Muzokomba had crashed against the upright.
CAPS United had scored the opener in the 57th minute when Rediyoni found himself in space wide on the right, after fine work by Rahman Kutsanzira, and drilled the ball home.
The visitors protested against the goal, arguing that Rediyon was off-side, but the referee was right to give the goal because a whole layer of Hardbody defenders were covering the other end and playing him on side.
Amid the protests Brian Juru was sent for an early shower by referee Langton Chitsa after the skipper insulted the assistant referee on the far side. The Green Machine deserved to win this match, by a mile, after dominating the match and creating an avalanche of chances.
Their neat build-ups caught the eye and they seemed to enjoy themselves playing on the good surface that has improved significantly from the work that has been carried on the pitch. Watching them spread the ball around, one could tell that now CAPS United were playing Taurai Mangwiro’s football.
CAPS United striker Clive Kawinga missed some chances in the opening minutes and everyone watched in disbelief in the 12th minute when he fumbled a through pass from Leornard Fiyado. How he missed, with an open goal at his mercy, only Clive will explain.
In the 27th minute Kawinga was pulled out, in what proved a masterstroke move by Mangwiro, and replaced by Rediyoni. Mangwiro made a lot of changes to the team with Hardlife Zvirekwi getting a place at right back and relegating captain Tapuwa Kumbuyani, who has been poor this season, to the bench.
Washington Pakamisa was thrust into the midfield and also handed the arm-band and, given that he was schooled in the CAPS United ranks, he played with the heart of a lion. Tendai Samanja was anchoring with the impressive Pride Tafirenyika, clearly the best player on view, playing on the right.
Asani Nhongo was the left back while Kawinga partnered Fiyado upfront. And this is the same team, which played in Mutare against Buffaloes, when Makepekepe produced a fine performance in a goalless draw. The first period was a tale of missed chances with Pakamisa’s header, after half an hour, missing the target off a Kutsanzira cross.
Chance after chance went begging as the Green Machine poured forward. The visitors’ chances were few and far between and a goalkeeping gaffe by CAPS United goalie Itai Chiwara in the eighth minute nearly handed them an early lead.
Hardbody’s Richard Jongwe also had a good chance on the half-hour mark when he made a spirited run after receiving a pass from Stephen Alimenda but his finishing was poor.
But this was a game that the Green Machine dominated and Pakamisa fired straight at a mass of bodies, after the ball had fell kindly to him inside the area, and then, with CAPS looking for the winner, got behind the defence but fired wide with his right.
There were chances for Kawondera, Fiyado, just about everyone in attack, and it looked like this would be another sad day for CAPS United until Rediyoni conjured his magic and fired the winner. Mangwiro was happy to pick his first win with the club.
“I am glad we got maximum points. The goals came and it wasn’t only one, it was two. All along we have been struggling to get goals, we got two today. We had to dig deep, once they got that lucky break they grew in confidence and it was always difficult for us but you could see the way we were bombarding their goal it meant we really needed a result.
“The good thing is, at least, we are creating. If anything we will continue to work on our finishing. I did say to the players for now let’s focus on Hardbody and now we shift focus looking forward to doing well. If you look at our season it has been an indifferent season but we can atone for that by turning on the good show in the Mbada Diamnods Cup,” said Mangwiro.
The coach added that he would continue to make changes as he assesses all the players. Hardbody coach Godfrey Tamirepi blamed the referee for the defeat.
“I was expecting this kind of refereeing. It was not fair the way the game was handled. We matched them pound for pound. My boys fought. We are going to survive as long as we have quality referees,” said Tamirepi.
Deep down in his heart, Tamirepi knows that the gods of football smiled on the better team and he should just find comfort that he lost by a single goal. The Herald
CAPS United: I. Chiwara, H. Zvirekwi, B. Zabula, T. Munyanduri, A. Nhongo, T. Samanja, W. Pakamisa, P. Tafirenyika, R. Kutsanzira, L. Fiyado, C. Kawinga (D. Rediyoni 27 minute).
Hardbody: U. Alexander, J. Mangiza, B. Juru, A. Chuma, S. Alimenda, N. Dube, R. Useni, I. Mugwamba, R. Jongwe(C. Maheya 96th minute), O. Motsi (C. Nyoni 44th minute), J. Muzokomba.