By Langton Nyakwenda
A JOURNEY that lasted 1 448 days and 126 Premiership games, yielding 218 points out of a possible 378, which translates to a 58 per cent success rate, ended in a somewhat sombre fashion last Sunday.
After recording 59 wins, 42 draws and 25 losses in charge of CAPS United since his appointment on September 1, 2015, Lloyd Chitembwe officially left Makepekepe for cross town rivals Harare City.
This came a day after he had masterminded a 2-1 win over fellow giants Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium.
Coincidentally, Chitembwe’s new side also play Highlanders at Barbourfields this afternoon.
Chitembwe broke the news of his intended departure in the CAPS United dressing room soon after that victory against Bosso, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, the gaffer regrets having done so.
“It was very sombre, I felt for them (CAPS United players). Most of them, if not all of them, were deflated.
“Some cried. It was soon after the game. I feel like I should have said it on a Tuesday after the game.
“It actually took everything away from a good performance and a good victory. My best moments last Sunday were before and during the game, not after.
“The players were almost in tears, it was not a good sight,” Chitembwe said.
The emotions were easy to detect in his voice but one thing was clear, Chitembwe is determined to move on from the team that shaped him both as a player and a coach.
Exuberance filled the air at Hellenic Sports Club, City’s training ground, as Chitembwe, with the aid of a tactical board, explained some game strategies before one of his assistants, Fungai “Tostao” Kwashi, led the players through a jog around the pitch.
Seasoned coaching instructor Nelson Matongorere and goalkeepers coach Ziwanai Kawadza have also moved with Chitembwe from CAPS to Harare City.
Some die-hard CAPS United fans were left feeling that the move had some destructive motive but Chitembwe, who was not shy to reveal how much he will miss Makepekepe, thinks otherwise.
“It’s not correct. I don’t think anyone should think like that.
“A good coach will obviously bring with him serious and good personnel. In these people I have faith. I strongly have a feeling they are some of the best in the country.
“I have spoken to Mr Jere (Farai). There’s freedom of movement, freedom of association and at the end of the day there are careers to pursue.
“We have different ways of building our careers. At the end of the day, this has nothing to do with bad feelings. They (assistant coaches) also did a good job at CAPS United,” Chitembwe said.
One of the first things Chitembwe did after signing for Harare City was to conduct one-on-one interactions with senior players, before introducing double sessions in a bid to improve the team’s intensity and competitiveness.
Having run the rule over his new players, Chitembwe has belief in the talent at his disposal.
But the 2016 league championship winner thinks real work will start next season.
A team with players like former Warriors goalkeeper Maxwell Nyamupangedengu, ex-Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum Stars midfielder Walter Mukanga, Moses Muchenje, the gifted Tatenda Tumba and one of the fastest rising defensive midfielders in the league, Tatenda Tavengwa, is surely not short of talent.
Chitembwe can foresee the sun shining again at Harare City, who once challenged for the title in 2013, before being relegated four seasons later.
The Sunshine Boys only returned to the elite league as a replacement for How Mine after they had folded at the beginning of the 2018 season.
“This season, it’s all about survival. Serious football will start next year.
“I would want to replicate my achievements at CAPS United with Harare City, this is my target and I certainly hope God will assist me.”
Although the 48-year-old Chitembwe brings his technical expertise to Harare City, he has to immediately arrest a four-game winless streak that saw interim coach Mark Mathe getting the sack.
“It’s very important not to look much into the past. All teams go through those (winless) phases.
“It is not a permanent phase, we can still prove that. This is the reason why I am here. I analysed everything and saw that it is doable,” Chitembwe said.
But the record making gaffer, who also won three titles as a CAPS United player in 1996, 2004 and 2005, had some special words for the Green Machine family.
“CAPS United is a special institution for me. They gave me so much, and they are the reason why I am where I am today.
“Apart from that, you know I love the green colour, the colour is just beautiful. They have a very passionate group of fans, probably one of the best in the country.
“I also had the privilege of working with some very special players, some very special teams, but I want to single out Mr Jere. He is an unbelievable person.
“His knowledge of the game is out of this world, I am saying this with humility as I have seen him evolve in football. Apart from his great administration skills, he has a good heart.
“It is sad. I will miss him, I will miss everything about CAPS United but at the end of the day, I have a career. I want to explore and see how far I can get, no hard feelings,” said Chitembwe. The Sunday Mail
Dynamos v Chicken Inn (Rufaro);
Highlanders v Harare City (Barbourfelds)