By Mukudzei Chingwere
Newman Sianchali got himself a US$100 cash present from a delirious CAPS United fan after his heroics powered the Green Machine back to the top of the Castle Lager Premiership table.
The Harare giants showed the quality of champions to come from a first-half deficit and then strike twice after the break, including the winner which came five minutes from time, at Rufaro.
Sianchali was the hero.
A CAPS United supporter, who had been watching from the VIP Enclosure, summoned the striker and handed him a US$100 note for inspiring the Green Machine to a sweet, and decisive, victory.
He was also showered with Zimbabwean dollars and notes by the fans.
The former Bosso forward rose from the bench and freed title-chasing Makepekepe from the jaws of defeat in a tight contest match which ended with ZPC Kariba being reduced to 10-men.
The hosts trailed at the break after Jimu Gwara calmly slotted the opener for ZPC Kariba.
But, at the interval, CAPS United coach, Darlington Dodo, tinkered with the team, bringing in captain Hardlife Zvirekwi and Sianchali for Clive Rupiya and Dominic Chungwa.
ZPC Kariba goalkeeper, Takabva Mawaya, was in an inspired form between the sticks but couldn’t stop Sianchali’s overheard kick, two minutes before the hour mark, and his winning header, five minutes from time.
Before his introduction, Sianchali had received tips from assistant coach, Stewart Murisa — a goalscorer of note during his days — who told the striker to roam the penalty area.
“Their goalkeeper was doing very well and coach Dodo told me at half-time to go into the game and do whatever I can to make sure the team wins the match,’’ said Sianchali.
“He said we cannot afford to drop any points at this stage. He also reminded me that I must not be under pressure to deliver, he said I need to be calm and make the right decisions in front of goal.
“When I was about to get in, Bla Shutto (Murisa) told me that he was banking on me to carry the day for the team and encouraged me to be steady and to keep on pressing.
“But, it is not about me alone but the team as whole.
“Now, we are back on top and we need to continue doing well. Yes, it can be done, it is four games to go.’’
Yesterday’s win means CAPS United are now on 54 points, two ahead of Chicken Inn and FC Platinum, while ZPC Kariba remain on 45 points.
“The mentality I saw today is for champions, this is what champions do,” said Dodo.
“You do not give up, you keep on fighting and credit to the boys for the job well done, it was not easy to come from behind and get a win.
“To our supporters, this is the time we need them the most and they need to be behind the team even if things appear to be bad.’’ ZPC Kariba were virtually unplayable in the first half but crumbled after the breather with their negative tactics, including elaborate time-wasting moves, an eyesore.
Their coach Godfrey Tamirepi attributed the defeat to fatigue and that they finished the game a man down after Boniface Zuberi was sent off 10 minutes from time.
“Everything boils down to the game we played in the Chibuku Super Cup. We played a high tempo game against Highlanders, which I think affected us in the second half of this game,’’ said Tamirepi.
“We created more chances than CAPS United and, unfortunately, my guys did not take the chances, we had an early goal and we failed to consolidate the lead.
“But all the same credit to the boys, we had played more games in a week and it showed. “Now, our target is to finish on a good position, we need to do well in our last four games.’’ The Herald