ZIMBABWE soccer champions CAPS United’s CAF Champions League preparations are gathering momentum as they take on visiting Mozambican league winners Ferroviario de Beira in an international friendly at the Nationals Sports Stadium this afternoon.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The visit by the Mozambicans underlines the growth of a relationship between the two teams after CAPS United visited the Beira-based club during pre-season last year.
Interestingly, after last year’s pre-season engagement both teams emerged champions in their respective leagues and are both competing in the CAF Champions League.
With team coach Lloyd Chitembwe taking part in a CAF A coaching course at Zifa Village, assistant coach Fungai “Tostao” Kwashi has been in charge of the team the entire week.
“It’s an important game that will help us improve on the fitness levels of our players since we are coming from a break. We are going to give it our best, but we are not under pressure because it is not about the result,” he said in an interview with Standardsport.
He added: “We are grateful to Ferroviario for coming to play us in this international friendly and it’s going to make us a better side as we prepare for the CAF Champions League.”
CAPS United were drawn against Lesotho side Lioli in the Champions League preliminary round, while their visitors date Zimamoto of Zanzibar in a first leg fixture slated for the weekend of February 10-12.
Kwashi said all the players had so far shown the motivation to quickly forget the past year’s success and set on a course to make new history.
“The guys have been great and everyone including the new guys has shown a lot of motivation and hard work. We don’t want to dwell on the success of last year but we are challenging ourselves to make new history this year.
“Sundowns showed us that anyone can win the CAF Champions League and play at the Club World Cup and so we have to really double our efforts as a team for us to do well. And it’s a great motivation to be playing Ferroviario and then travel to Zambia for more international friendlies,” he said.
The match will give the CAPS United technical department a chance to look at new signings, who include former Dynamos and Harare City attacking midfielder Ronald Chitiyo, as well as defender Last Sithole from FC Platinum, as well as goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba ahead of the new season.
All eyes will be on Chitiyo who crossed the floor from Dynamos to Harare City last season, but failed to find his touch and couldn’t resist the Champions League carrot CAPS United dangled in front of him.
While the Green Machine celebrated their first title in 11 years, their Mozambican counterparts claimed their first league success in 40 years.
Coached by Lucas Bararijo, Ferroviario have a Zimbabwean player in their ranks in the form of former Dynamos goalkeeper Willard Manyathela.