By Andrew Rusike
CAPS United might have been humiliated 2-4 at home on Friday by Al Ahli Tripoli on Match Day 3 of Group B 2017 CAF Champions League, but a thorough analysis of their dance with Africa’s big boys shows that they are punching above their weight.
It does not need a rocket scientist to know that CAPS United are the poorest team among the CAF 2017 best sixteen teams.
So poor that Tresor Mputu’s salary alone may just be enough for the Green Machine’s entire wage bill.
So poor that a quarter of their players can play with injuries, which could either have been prevented or addressed if the team had the best (or even decent) medical equipment.
I shall not dwell on sponsorship or lack of it. However, history will always tell us that they knocked out one of the richest clubs, TP Mazembe, in the second round of the qualifying campaign.
Nonetheless, this does not justify poor performance from CAPS United, but lays bare the notion that there is potential in the country in terms of sporting talent.
Halfway into the group stage campaign, CAPS United are not the ‘dullest student’ in the CAF 2017 Class of 16 after all.
Collated results show that they are student number 13 out of 16.
The following observations have been noted, and subsequent conclusions drawn from the statistics shown above: CAPS United are in this position courtesy of 100 percent home grown talent, from club owners to the technical team, the players, the supporters, the media and all those in the football fraternity.
They are doing better than Al Merrikh of Sudan who have 3 Nigerians, a Ugandan goalkeeper, 2 Ivorians, a Ghanaian and a Kenyan registered for this Champions League.
AS Vita of DR Congo have 14 foreigners registered for this year`s competition, one of them being Oscar Machapa (an ex-CAPS United player) and 3 Cameroonians. Coton Sport of Cameroon have a Nigerien (not Nigerian) striker, a Burkinabe midfielder as well as another Chadian midfielder in their ranks.
Yet here in Zimbabwe, if we get any Cameroonian in one of our local teams, he `excels` with ease.
All the other 12 teams above CAPS United are loaded with foreigners, with little known Saint George of Ethiopia having 6 foreigners (2 Burkinabe, 2 Ugandans, an Ivorian and a Brazilian coach by the name Neider dos Santos).
Even Zanaco of Zambia have 2 foreigners in their books.
CAPS United do not draw any direct support (be it an attachment by default because of any foreigner at the club) from any other stakeholders apart from locals; rivals included.
There are only thirteen countries represented by the sixteen teams in this CAF Champions league.
They could have been 12, had it not been for CAPS United who knocked out DR Congo`s AS Vita`s bitter rivals.
That means CAPS United are putting Zimbabwe on position 11 out of 13 of CAF`s best league club champions.
Surely, this tells us something good about our local game; it is not only about CAPS United.
Although they are joint worst-defence-record holders together with AS Vita at this stage, they are joint-fourth on the teams which have scored more goals.
Only Etoile du Sahel, Esperance and USM Alger have scored more than CAPS United.
Tafadzwa Rusike, Ronald Chitiyo and Justice Jangano were in the CAF`s Team of the Week (best 11 players) soon after match day 2 when CAPS United beat USM Alger 2-1.
Surely `Fire` and `Rooney` are arguably the shortest players to be amongst the 11.
For CAPS United to have three of their players from a pool of about 288(16 x 18) players eligible to play during that week, speaks volumes of the potential in our local game.
Fate has also added misery to this poorest club, which will travel by air, the longest distance in this group stages campaign.
CAPS United should draw inspiration from the fact that they are not yet far off the pacesetters in their group and other groups as well. The Herald