Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
Bantu Rovers 1-3 Caps United
A BRACE by skipper Hardlife Zvirekwi and a strike from Dominic Chungwa powered defending champions Caps United to a deserved victory against youthful Bantu Rovers at Hartsfield Ground, Bulawayo yesterday.
The victory saw the Green Machine who were making their second trip to Bulawayo within a week move a place up the ladder to position 10 with 32 points amassed from 22 games.
Caps United’s experience came in handy against a Rovers side whose four defenders were all Under-18s in the absence of injured duo of seasoned Dumisani Fazo Ndlovu and Lindelani Vice Ncube.
Rovers’ defence was made up of skipper Kudzaishe Dzingwe, debutant Samson Sakala, Shadreck Nyahwa and Nyasha Garai.
Zvirekwi fired the champions into the lead ghosting from the blind side to head in a Crispen Machisi cross from the left in the 19th minute.
Striker Chungwa doubled the visitors’ lead in the 36th minute, reacting swiftly to a Moses Muchenje rebound in the 36th minute. The buildup to the goal saw Muchenje easily wrestling central defender Sakala before firing a shot at goal which Rovers goalkeeper Wellington Muuya punched into the path of Chungwa who had the easiest task of poking the ball into the net.
Caps United kept piling pressure on the relegation threatened Rovers and three minutes after Chungwa’s goal Muuya produced a brilliant save to deny Machisi a goal from close range.
Rovers refused to be bullied, pulling one back two minutes before halftime through veteran Tapiwa Kumbuyani’s header off a Dzingwe freekick.
Rovers returned from the break in search of an equaliser but it was Caps United who found the back of the net courtesy of a stinger by Zvirekwi in the 54th minute. The Caps United skipper struck a perfect shot that hit the far post before going into the net, leaving Muuya rooted.
The goal all but secured Caps United maximum points.
“This was a fantastic win for the lads because it’s not easy playing teams that are at the bottom of the table. We needed this win and after playing three matches inside eight days as well as travelling twice to Bulawayo fatigue was really catching up with the lads but they fought for the points. Now we’re looking forward to the next game and as for the campaign, we’re not worried about how other teams are playing and we will be taking each game as it comes,” said Fungai “Tostao” Kwashi, Caps United’s assistant coach.
Rovers’ coach Methembe Ndlovu conceded defeat and heaped praises on his youngsters.
“We lost fair and square to a side that was better than us. The match officiating was good. I think we defended a lot and when that happens you’re bound to concede. The youngsters really gave a good account of themselves. I was impressed by central defender Sakala who was playing his first game,” said Ndlovu.
Bantu Rovers: Wellington Muuya, Kudzaishe Dzingwe, Shadreck Nyahwa, Nyasha Garayi, Samson Sakala, Tapiwa Kumbuyani, Pride Ziwengwa, Munyaradzi Chitambwe (Remmington Masuku, 58th minute), McCarthy Dube, Brighton Ncube (Nkosilathi Mpofu, 61st minute), Nigel Papias (Mbonisi Ncube, 79th minute)
Caps United: Edmore Sibanda, Valentine Musarurwa, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Carlton Munzabwa, Stephen Makatuka, Devon Chafa (Kudzai Nyamupfukudza, 70th minute), Moses Muchenje, John Zhuwawu (Joel Ngodzo, 71st minute), Goodwin Goriyati, Crispen Machisi, Dominic Chungwa (Abairim Chidiebere, 78th minute)
Friday: Ngezi Platinum Stars 2-1 Harare City
Saturday: FC Platinum 1-0 How Mine, Black Rhinos 1-1 Bulawayo City, Chicken Inn 1-2 Yadah FC, Chapungu 1-1 Shabanie Mine, Tsholotsho FC 0-1 ZPC Kariba
Yesterday: Bantu Rovers 1-3 Caps United, Triangle United 3-1 Hwange, Dynamos 1-1 Highlanders