By Enoch Muchinjo
PREMIER Soccer League (PSL) championship favourites Caps United are expected to clinch the first major cup tournament of the season when they take on Shabanie Mine in the final of the lucra
tive Buddie Challenge Trophy at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The Green Machine, who have been on a roll in the premiership title race, displaying a thrilling blend of attacking football and unshakable confidence, should have little trouble beating a Shabanie side which fell out of the championship race barely mid-way through the season having started off well.
Current form does not usually have much bearing on the outcome of cup games, especially if both teams are in the top half of the league. But the miners will have to perform top-shelf heroics if they are to lift the Buddie Challenge Trophy and maintain their rather impressive cup record in their short history in the PSL.
Moses Chunga’s men will look for inspiration from gangling striker Albert Mbano, attacking linkman Rowan Nenzou, utility player Shadreck Malunga and national team trialist, right wingback Method Mwanjali. Patrick Mandizha and Phillip Sithole can also inflict damage on Caps’ hopes by grabbing the goals.
The Zvishavane-based outfit will need to bury the ghost of their gutless performance in the league a few months ago when Caps trounced them 3-0 at the NSS to complete a double over them. A Brian Badza strike had condemned them to their first league defeat at Maglas early in the season.
Caps coach Charles Mhlauri has instilled a winning culture in the side’s camp, and will obviously be oozing self-belief and looking beyond the match.
Once again underrated midfield workhorse Tichaona Nyenda will be expected to put up another polished show after emerging as the man of the match last week in a victory over Dynamos. He will be ably assisted by gifted Zambian international Ian Bakala back in the middle of the park after national duty.
In defence another Zambian, veteran Laughter Chilembe, leads by example in the centre while captain David Sengu and Cephas Chimedza operate from the flanks.
Malawi national team captain Peter Mponda could also make his debut for Makepekepe after training with the team this week.
Upfront, pacy strikers Badza and Leonard Tsipa and winger Raymond Undi, who have been tormenting defenders with their aggression and dribbling the whole season, must go a gear up in order to penetrate the Shabanie defence, well-marshalled by Warriors rookie Malunga.