THE Caps United coaching job has proved to be one of the hottest seats in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, particularly for former Dynamos players.
Twice Dynamos legend Moses Chunga was forced out of the Green Machine camp due to hostilities he faced from an unforgiving fan base.
His two spells ended prematurely while one of his former assistants and current Dynamos head coach Kalisto Pasuwa also faced resistance during his time at Makepekepe.
To some extent, Caps fans have proved difficult to please, even to former Makepekepe sons such as Lloyd Chitembwe.
But Taurai Mangwiro, another DeMbare born and bred son, who also faced hostility in the early days of his relationship with the team, seems to have charmed the Caps fans after presiding over a realistic title challenge for the first time in a very long time.
Since Charles Mhlauri led Caps to back-to-back league titles in 2004 and 2005, Caps has struggled to mount a strong title push and has often found itself fighting for survival.
However, a sequence of good results has seen the Green Machine only three points adrift of log leaders Dynamos after 10 matches.
This week Mangwiro, who was partly rescued by Caps from the threat of a lengthy Asiagate ban, opened up to IndependentSport about his gratitude to the Caps family for finally accepting him and keeping faith in his abilities.
“It gives me a lot of confidence and encouragement if you look at how finally I have been accepted in the Caps family,” said Mangwiro.
“There is always belief that Dynamos sons will always have blue blood in them but I personally feel indebted to Caps. They stood by me at the most difficult time and had it not been for this club, I could be singing the blues. It’s up to me now to payback and I can only do that with good results.”
Caps United paid Mangwiro’s US$6 000 appeals fees after he had been initially found guilty and given a lengthy ban over the match fixing scandal.
He won the appeal and was allowed to return to football and take his job at Caps.
But until he wins the big Harare derby, he knows he will still fall short of totally convincing the few doubters left.
“It has not been easy whenever we go into a derby as it triggers sad memories. The first time I was involved in the big derby, we lost the match 3-0 and some players, who include Nyasha Mukumbi and Edmore Sibanda, were expelled. For me, it was my third consecutive defeat after taking over but the club management stood by me. When we lost the Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final to Dynamos, Farai Jere left the club.”
After his suspension, Mangwiro returned when the current season was already underway and presided over the first league meeting with Dynamos.
“On my return, we lost to Dynamos through a Devon Chafa penalty in a league match. I could have lost my job. In fact I was summoned to a meeting to explain the defeat and circumstances surrounding it. I am saying all this to demonstrate how big and important the Harare derby is to the Caps family. It is not an easy fixture for anyone; the players the coaches and the administration itself. That is the extent of the rivalry between the two sides.”
While many have started talking about Caps as championship contenders based on its form and resources, Mangwiro remains focused on his target to ensure he collects maximum points on Sunday.
“Expectations are high but I have been telling the players the target remains the same; we want to improve on the 26 points that we picked in the first half of the season. So far we have picked nine and there are still 30 more to fight for.
Caps has added depth in its squad after registering Benson Maglas and Tinovimba Muswe, among other younger players, to complement the experience of captain Tapiwa Khumbuyani, Arnold Chivheya and Tawanda Nyamandwe.
For Mangwiro, the team has improved such that he can replace quality with quality each time he loses players to injuries or national team commitments.
While he has been attributed with the success so far, Mangwiro said it is the work of goalkeepers’ coach Brenna Msiska and Mkhupali Masuku during the off season which is bearing fruit.