CAPS United regain lost aura

HARARE - The progress CAPS United have made since Harare businessman Farai Jere assumed control of the country’s third largest football team in May has been nothing short of remarkable.

Due to the country’s declining economy, financing the club’s day-to-day operations had become a huge burden on former majority shareholder Twine Phiri.

As a result player strikes and revolts were ever present at Makepekepe as Phiri struggled to finance the club’s day-today runnings.

United had started the season under Briton coach Mark Harrison by earning two wins over Whawha and FC Platinum.

But all the early success was halted when Makepekepe players refused to take to the field against How Mine in Bulawayo in April in protest over unpaid salaries and bonuses.

The club became a house on fire with striker Roderick Mutuma, defenders Dominic Mukandi and Stephen Makatuka among other players quitting the club at some point.

With the club on the brink of collapse and facing lawsuits that had been mulled by former directors who were owed an estimated combined $5 million, a deal was reached.

Phiri converted the club’s debt to Jere into equity. The move effectively gave Jere an 80 percent stake in CAPS United with Phiri holding 20 percent. The new developments did not take time to yield results.

Since then, powered by the stability and conducive environment created by Jere, the Green Machine are unbeaten in their last five games.

Even the unexpected departure of Harrison for Botswana side Township Rollers did not destabilise the Green Machine.

In those five matches, Makepekepe are yet to concede a goal as their defence has stood tall.

While it is goals which win games, one cannot overlook just how important a solid defence is.

Since Jere took over, United beat Dongo Sawmills (0-2), Tsholotsho (0-2) before drawing against Flame Lilly (0-0) and Harare City (0-0).

At the weekend, Makepekepe did not play well but still managed to dispatch log leaders Chicken Inn 2-0 courtesy of a brace from Leonard Fiyado at the National Sports Stadium.

It was only the Gamecocks’ third defeat of the season inside 14 matches which goes to show this was no stroll in the park for the Green Machine.

The recent performances has seen the four-time Zimbabwe champions make steady progress up the table and now find themselves in fifth place with 24 points from 15 matches.

Mark Mathe’s charges are now just five points behind Chicken Inn.

Despite the close proximity to the summit, Mathe is not getting carried away as the second half of the season promises to have many surprises in store.

“We are looking at a top four finish,” he told the Daily News. “We need to get there gradually, one game at a time.

“All the games are difficult and the most important thing is competing and getting the required results. I think so far so good we are getting there.

“The boys are doing well and it’s good that we are not conceding. I think we now need to work hard on our conversion.”

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