CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe believes the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-final win will turn the tide for his side as they shift focus to the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League with a home encounter against struggling Yadah at Bata Stadium tomorrow.
The Green Machine have clocked nine matches without tasting victory in the league, leaving them in position 12 on the log table with a measly 27 points from 24 games.
After the Highlanders match, Chitembwe said they needed that win to spur them forward.
Clive Rupiya put up a stellar performance to nick a brace in regulation time as Caps went on to surrender a first-half 2-0 lead to Highlanders, forcing the match into penalty shootouts which saw the Green Machine winning 5-3, setting a date with Dynamos in the semi-finals.
Rupiya and veteran Rodwell Chinyengetere gave the Highlanders’ defence a headache.
“All of our past results were not as a consequence of poor performance. I thought we were just unlucky. Even our loss to Dynamos last week was not because we played so badly. These things happen in football; you have your moments, you have your phases. I strongly believe now that the bad phase is behind us because all that we needed was just a win to make sure we rediscover ourselves,” Chitembwe said.
The relieved mentor said his lads can now kick on as they look to steer away from the relegation zone.
“This result will obviously go a very long way in terms of lifting our confidence levels because it’s practically impossible to play the same kind of module when you go for almost seven, eight games without a win. I am extremely happy with the way the coaches managed that process. It was not easy. The same goes for the players for managing that phase perfectly well. That is all we needed and going into the next round of matches, I am sure the confidence is back. I am sure we can go on now believing that we can win a match and that is critically important.”
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As Makepekepe seek to redeem themselves in the league, the title race also implodes this week as log leaders Ngezi Platinum, who beat Herentals in the Chibuku quarter-finals on Sunday, host struggling Black Rhinos at Baobab Stadium tomorrow.
Rhinos are buoyed by kicking out Chicken Inn in the Chibuku Super Cup, but are in the doldrums in the league as they face a team they will clash with in the semi-final of the Chibuku Super Cup competition.
Highlanders, in the second spot with 44 points and three behind Ngezi, are back home at BF, to entertain Sheasham tomorrow.
Highlanders have struggled of late with three defeats to FC Platinum, Chicken Inn and Hwange and a hanging result in the abandoned game against Dynamos in which they trailed 2-0 when it was called off at BF.
Manica Diamonds, with 42 points, have a tough one tomorrow when they host FC Platinum, who are also in a title-chasing position with 40 points.
Dynamos also cannot be ruled out of the championship race as they are on cloud nine after dismissing Caps in their last league game as well as bundling FC Platinum out of the Chibuku Super Cup on Saturday.
DeMbare (39 points) will hit the road to Gibbo Stadium on Thursday to face Triangle, while Chicken Inn (38) are away to Herentals (35 points) at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
Today: Cranborne Bullets vs Simba Bhora (NSS)
Tomorrow: Herentals vs Chicken Inn (NSS), Ngezi Platinum vs Black Rhinos (Baobab), Manica Diamonds vs FC Platinum (Gibbo), Caps United vs Yadah (Bata), Highlanders vs Yadah (BF), ZPC Kariba vs Green Fuel (Nyamhunga)
Thursday: Triangle vs Dynamos (Gibbo), Bulawayo Chiefs vs Hwange (Luveve)
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