BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
HARARE giants CAPS United’s title credentials will come under scrutiny when they host premiership new boys but vastly experienced Manica Diamonds at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon.
The 2016 champions will be buoyed after signing an improved sponsorship package from telecommunications giant NetOne on Friday night.
CAPS United is set to receive $700 000 sponsorship per year, double the $350 000 they got from the same benefactor last season.
At least for now the players and the technical teams will focus on the task at hand, which is to rob three points off their rich opponents, powered by diamond money.
Manica Diamonds won promotion into the elite league after winning the Eastern Region championship.
While they are a new outfit in the top flight league, what has perhaps changed only is the name of the team because virtually all their players have been through the mill. It’s like old wine in a new bottle.
From goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, to defender Partson Jaure, winger Benjamin Marere as well as former CAPS United defender Carlton Munzabwa among others, they have experienced players who have seen it all.
The Money Bags also boast a vastly experienced coach in Luke “Vahombe” Masomere. He has presided over several teams in the premiership including AmaZulu where he won the championship and has even taken charge of some teams in neighbouring Botswana.
Masomere has also fused experience with youth to give balance to the team with former FC Platinum forward Marshall Mudehwe, former Dynamos and CAPS United striker Wisdom Mutasa and defender Peace Makaha joining to form what could be one of the formidable sides in domestic football.
It will be a tough examination for CAPS United in this season opener.
The Green Machine had a difficult campaign last season by their standards after finishing a distant eighth.
For a team that had won the championship two years back and went on to represent the country with distinction in Africa when they reached the lucrative group stage of the continent’s premier club competition- the African Champions League for the first time in history- this was a disastrous performance.
The Harare giants have, however, vowed to challenge for honours this season and have been one of the busiest sides in the transfer market where they have captured a number of new signings.
CAPS United swooped on former Highlanders forwards Gabriel Nyoni and Newman Sianchali and also recalled winger Phineas Bhamusi who had a successful stint with lowveld side Triangle.
Creative midfielder Ronald Chitiyo who had appeared set to leave the club following the expiry of his contract on December 31 last year was tied to another one year deal.
Chitiyo, however, is set to miss the club’s first few games as he continues with his habilitation following an injury sustained after he was hit by a car in Epworth resulting in him being sidelined for quite some time.
However, with Dominic Chungwa- the domestic league’s top scorer in 2016 when they won the championship back from a stint in South Africa, CAPS United are a real threat.
There has been so much excitement flowing in their camp as the whole teams looks reinvigorated.
A win over the Money Bags in this season opener will be significant for the team, in terms of confidence while it will also lift the spirits of the success starved fans.