By Eddie Chikamhi
CAPS United yesterday said they owe their supporters an apology after they experienced their worst end to the season on Saturday at the National Sports Stadium with the defeat to FC Platinum in the epic Castle Lager Premiership football decider which denied them this year’s league title.
The Green Machine, who enjoyed long spells on top of the table this year, finished the campaign empty-handed despite having gone into the final two rounds of the marathon riding on a two-point advantage.
It also emerged CAPS United players could have shot themselves in the foot with their ill-timed decision to embark on a goal-slow to press for the payment of their outstanding bonuses ahead of the away mid-week trip to Ngezi Platinum for the penultimate league match.
Eventually, they lost the match 3-2 to cede top spot to FC Platinum, who had beaten Black Rhinos 1-0 at Mandava on the same day. This meant pressure was back on CAPS United as they needed an outright win in Saturday’s head-to-head while FC Platinum could still have been crowned champions for the third time on the trot with a draw.
At the end of the day on Saturday, Makepekepe lost the match 1-0 at home. The club’s vice president Nhamo Tutisani yesterday said the Green Machine family was saddened by the anti-climax to this year’s campaign and felt they let down their supporters.
“We owe our supporters an apology. Of course the boys tried their best, our supporters expected us to lift the crown, but it wasn’t to be. So we have to apologise for that,” said Tutisani.
“This has been an eventful season for us with some ups and downs. We had some technical changes along the way and when everyone expected things to go the other way, we actually managed to stay in the title fight until the last day although many people had not given the new coach (Darlington Dodo) a chance.
“But I believe the turning point was those three games when we dropped points against TelOne, Yadah and Herentals. Personally, I believe had we done things correctly then, we could have been talking about a different story.
“Credit to FC Platinum because they have been very consistent, winning it three times in a row.
“It shows there is something that they are doing right. They also wanted it and they won it, congratulations to them,” said Tutisani.
FC Platinum finished on top of the table with 62 points, while CAPS United slipped into third place in the final rankings on 58 points. Chicken Inn squeezed into second place with an emphatic 4-1 win over relegated TelOne after taking their points tally to 59.
CAPS United’s campaign this year has been under two coaches, Lloyd Chitembwe and Darlington Dodo. Chitembwe left for Harare City mid-season, leaving the club on second position, just one point behind leaders FC Platinum with 15 rounds of play remaining.
Dodo managed to keep the dream alive despite lingering doubts from the CAPS United faithful. He recorded seven wins and three draws but the campaign veered off the rails in the last two outings when they lost the most critical games against Ngezi Platinum and FC Platinum.
In total, Dodo presided over five losses.
Tutisani confirmed there were disturbances in the camp last week which could have also impacted on their campaign.
CAPS United players are reported to have gone on industrial action on the eve of the trip to Ngezi demanding payment of outstanding dues.
“I think we lacked focus. I am told that last week they didn’t put much in terms of preparations.
“Probably they had thought that they have already won the league title and then they decided to embark on a go-slow when their issues were being attended to.
“I really don’t know why these guys took the other teams for granted. With football you can only be certain that you have won the race after you have completed all your games.
“We are hoping going forward we can be able to produce the calibre of players who can remain focused and be able to cross the finish line.
“There are one or two things to learn from a player like Nyasha Mushekwi. He left the club a long time back but he still has that deep love for CAPS United.
“What he did was very humbling because it’s very rare to see a player buying a bus for a team out of his own will.
“But with some of these guys, it’s not like that.
“Their bonuses are delayed a bit and the next thing they are on industrial action,” said Tutisani. The Herald