Giants Caps United will look to strike a perfect balance between ambition and caution when they square up with giant killers How Mine in the semifinal of the rich Mbada Diamonds Cup at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
By Kevin Mapasure
Ahead of that Highlanders chase glory against Harare City at Mandava tomorrow.
Caps have endured a season of hardships as financial tapes ran dry, but they have a chance to boost their coffers by winning this cup.
The winners are set for US$130 000 in prize money in addition to funds for use in the Confederation Cup.
There are several reasons why Caps will shed blood and sweat for glory on Sunday with benefits at stake both at individual and team levels.
On the other hand league debutants How Mine know that they are two games away from achieving a remarkable feat by winning a major piece of silverware in their first season.
Having seen How Mine knock out Dynamos in the previous round, Caps have been chastened against complacency and coach Taurai Mangwiro’s preparations this week centered on focus.
“We know that they are a dangerous side, we know that they can beat anyone on their day, said Mangwiro. “But we also know what to do to progress and we also know that we are two matches away from booking a place in Africa so we will not let that slip away easily.”
Of late Caps, who retain slim hopes of winning the Castle lager premier Soccer League championship, have been employing squad rotation to keep the players fit for the important cup run.
Their only injury concern going into the weekend is left back Ronald Pfumbidzai whom they are however hopeful will be ready in time for the match.
Having played their first two matches of this competition in Mutare and Gweru the Green Machine returns to its home ground hoping it will give them an edge.
With so much at stake one would expect Caps to employ their usual tactics of a fluent passing game while pressing frantically up field.
“We have beaten them twice before but we will not sit on past success, we are promising the fans that we will play this game like our own lives depended on it. It is important that we do well for financial reason, this is a rich knockout tournament and we need the money, we also need to do something good for the pride of the club and we all want to do well so that we can be associated with success at an individual level.”
Caps’ success so far has been built on the balance they have struck in their midfield where Tendai Samanja has been thriving at the base of the midfield while the creativity of Rahman Kutsanzira, Benson Maglasi and Hardlife Zvirekwi has often dazzled opponents especially at the National Sports.
Strikers Tawanda Nyamandwe, Dominic Chungwa and Leonard Fiyado have all lacked consistency but one of them always pops up with a goal.
But they face a formidable and experienced How Mine defence that features Gilbert Banda, Hebert Dick and former Caps United player Nyasha Mukumbi.
How Mine’s strike force is not bad either with Simba Sithole having proven how good he is at the top level.
The other semifinal features two sides that play beautiful passing football and it will be interesting how both approach this match.
Highlanders enjoyed imperious form until Motor Action forced a draw in a league match in Harare last week.
They will be looking to the experience and expertise of Njabulo Ncube up front, Mthulisi Maphosa in the middle and Innocent Mapuranga at the back.