THE relief on the face of CAPS United coach, Darlington Dodo, was clear when he appeared at the post-match media conference at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The Green Machine gaffer was full of praises, for his charges, after his team came from a goal down to snatch an important victory, against Herentals, in a Chibuku Super Cup match.
Makepekepe badly needed a victory, after making a slow start in this competition, by drawing their first two games in Group One.
Striker Tinashe Balakasi and midfielder Blessing Sarupinda, delivered the important goals for the Green Machine, either side of the break.
Herentals had taken an early lead, courtesy of Gibson Chinobva’s fifth-minute penalty conversion.
The victory meant Makepekepe dislodged eternal rivals Dynamos, at the top of the table, ahead of Glamour Boys’ match against ZPC Kariba, in another Group One match.
The outcome of the match will set an interesting stage for Sunday’s Harare Derby, pitting the two traditional rivals, who are now battling for control of Group One.
“We had some good moments and, some other moments, which we feel we can improve on,” said Dodo.
“But, the most important aspect was to make sure that we grind a positive result, which is a win.
“This win was long overdue, I am glad for the boys, for the hard work they put in, after coming back from behind again and, fortunately, managing to score a winning goal.
“As a team and, personally as the coach, I think the feeling was that we wanted such a positive result, to make sure that we get into the winning groove.
“We know what we haven’t been doing right in the previous games — it was conversion and we were conceding in open play.
“But, we didn’t concede in open play in this game, it was a penalty awarded to them and there was nothing we could do.”
Makepekepe found themselves trailing, after conceding a disputed penalty, just five minutes into the game.
Herentals, who again thrust into the starting line-up their 49-year-old club owner Innocent Benza, had some fine opportunities, to increase their lead early on, but they could capitalise.
The Green Machine levelled terms, following a defensive error by the Students, with Balakasi making a fine run, and beating the ’keeper with a rising shot, after 22 minutes.
Earlier, the former Harare City man had missed a good opportunity, after heading a ball swung in from a free-kick by left-back Brendon Mpofu, just wide.
Mpofu looked good with his crosses and was on point with the set-pieces, which deservedly won him, the man-of-the-match award.
He had an effort tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Frank Kuchineyi moments after the restart.
Herentals midfielder, Charles Lumbilani, twice came close but dragged his shot wide, after the CAPS defenders were caught napping, following a quick free-kick, taken by Benza.
Goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga then went airborne, to stop a close range header and keep the scores balanced, going into the half-time break.
But, Ronald Chitiyo could have made the difference, at the other end, only for his long range effort to come off the woodwork, with the ‘keeper beaten.
Chitiyo still played a huge part in CAPS United’s win, after working his way on the left, before crossing the ball into the path of Sarupinda, in the 62nd minute.
The midfielder responded with a well-placed header.
CAPS United are now top of the table with five points from three games.
Dynamos are second with four points, with a game in hand, while Herentals are still winless, with two points from three games.
Their coach, Kumbirai Mutiwekuziva, took responsibility for yesterday’s defeat.- Chronicle