ZIMBABWE champions Caps United are expected to make a victorious return to international football when they take on Lesotho Defence Forces in the first leg of their Confederation of African Fo
otball champions league first round tie at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Caps, who last season won their third ever domestic championship, were last involved in continental competition in 1997 when they were booted out of the Champions League by South African giants Orlando Pirates in the second round.
Last Sunday the Harare side shook off their pre-season lay-off to dispatch Malawian outfit Telecom Wanderers in a polished second half performance when the two sides met in an international friendly. Caps coach Charles Mhlauri will have to do without the recently signed Malawian duo of Peter Mponda and Joseph Kamwendo, who are still unavailable for the continental campaign for different reasons.
Mhlauri should however field a full-strength side for the tie with left wingback and Soccer Star of the Year Cephas Chimedza still in the country after he was supposed to fly out on Sunday for trials in Belgium.
Caps have retained most of their players from last season, but will need to
find a capable replacement for outstanding Zambian international Ian Baka-la who deserted them for Angola at the end of last sea-son. Bakala’s place is likely to be taken by the enterprising Tichaona Nyenda who broke into the side towards season’s end and managed to earn himself a regular place. They also have in their ranks Ashley Muza, who missed the better part of last season due to injury, and Malawian Hadji Tambala, who came in as a second-half substitute against Wanderers and showed promise to take up the challenge in the attacking link position.
Inspirational Zambian fullback Laughter Chilembe has been named the new Caps captain and will be trusted to lead the team from the back.
Lesotho Defence Forces arrived in the country on Wednesday. Teams from the tiny southern African kingdom have provided little trouble for Zimbabwean teams at senior level in the past.
Caps probable line-up: Witness Munkhuli, David Sengu, Cephas Chimedza, Silent Katumba, Laughter Chilembe, Lloyd Chitembwe, Tichaona Nyenda, Artwell Mabhiza, Ashley Muza, Brian Badza, David Sengu.