Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau
Caps United 1-0 Harare City
SPEED MERCHANT Gabriel Nyoni scored for the third game in a row as Caps United gave team captain Hardlife Zvirekwi the perfect birthday present with another fine Castle Lager Premiership victory yesterday.
Zvirekwi turned 32 yesterday.
The Green Machine are enjoying a great start to the campaign and have only dropped points once, in that goalless draw against Highlanders when a late goal was somehow ruled out by the match officials, while also conceding just once.
At Rufaro, there was also a reason for some celebrations as coach Tonderai Ndiraya’s homecoming show saw Dynamos edge a battling ZPC Kariba 1-0 for their first league win in five games and only their second this season.
But, it was again all gloomy at Barbourfields as misfiring Highlanders again fired blanks and could only manage a goalless draw against Hwange.
Former Bosso vice-captain, Nyoni, probably the fastest player in the domestic Premiership, proved again why he could be a great acquisition for Makepekepe with a priceless strike that sunk Harare City.
Caps United could even afford the luxury of missing a penalty with Joel Ngodzo the fall guy as his effort was saved by the goalkeeper.
It was a brilliant first-half show for the Green Machine and a disciplined performance in the second as they found a way to contain a dangerous Harare City and get all three points at the National Sports Stadium.
Nyoni’s decider came just two minutes past the quarter-hour mark.
“Congrats to the Kepekepe boys @capsunitedfczw, well played,’’ their sponsors, NetOne, tweeted after the match.
“Keep the momentum.
“What a way to celebrate for the captain and the team.’’
The Green Machine have started the season on a high and yesterday took their points tally to 13, just one shy of leaders FC Platinum, with the latter having played a game more.
With an impressive three wins and a draw in four starts before yesterday’s outing, Caps United are having a flying start but local rivals Harare City were expected to offer stern resistance to the Lloyd Chitembwe charges.
But the 2016 champions still found a way to outwit the municipal club who remain with six points in as many matches.
Makepekepe imposed themselves early in the game and probed the Harare City goal area right from the start.
And, 17 minutes into the game, a well-timed cross-field run between Nyoni and Phineas Bhamusi confused the Harare City defence allowing the former to finish off a Ngodzo exquisite pass.
Nyoni could have grabbed a second seven minutes later but a wrongly-executed lob over goalkeeper Kelvin Shangiwa saw the ball rolling wide.
The glaring miss appeared to have forced Harare City out of their shell and they slowly started to take the game to their more fancied opponents with the upright coming between them and an equaliser seven minutes from the break.
Tatenda Tavengwa’s shot from the penalty arc came off the post with goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba beaten.
With Harare City coach Mark Harrison desperately needing to avoid a second consecutive defeat, following another loss to Black Rhinos last week, he introduced striker Wilfred Muvirimi at the restart but the Caps United defensive unit remained intact.
Chitembwe was elated and praised his charges’ character.
“It was a very tactical game, especially in the second half when Harare City had to shift their team around and I thought we responded very well,’’ said Chitembwe.
“I have a strong feeling that we did everything in the first half where we got a goal and in the second half they tried to come at us but we managed the game well.
“I am very happy and I am really impressed by the way the boys applied themselves. In terms of mental attitude, I thought they were spot on.
“They showed very high levels of concentration and composure. I am delighted by that performance.
“This is one game that we really needed the most. We, therefore, needed to be efficient in attack and disciplined in defence.’’
Harrison felt his men played well but were not as defensively effective as he had instructed them to, especially in the opening minutes.
“We can only blame ourselves for losing the game as we were bloody awful in the first 20 minutes,’’ the coach said.
“We knew they would press us and we had talked about it but we failed to manage it.
“But after conceding we found our way back into the match and we were in absolute control of the game but we failed to finish them off.
“It’s difficult to really tell what’s wrong.”
P Chigumba, V Musarurwa, V Ndaba (C Rusere 83rd min) , M Mwanjale, G Goriati, B Sarupinda (R Chitiyo 86th min), J Ngodzo, G Nyoni, P Bhamusi, D Chungwa (K Nyamupfukudza 52nd min) J Zhuwawu
K Shangiwa, G Madhake, M Ncube, M Diro-Nyenye, M Machazane, T Tavengwa, W Mukanga (W Muvirimi 46th min), L Muyambo, J Chipangura, M Vengesai (I Wadi 59th min) , T Tumba (T. Tumba 78th min)