CAPS United showed why they are the Zimbabwe Premier League Champions, after they impressively held perennial African powerhouse TP Mazembe to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the first round CAF Champions League match on Sunday. The result handed Caps the initiative due to their away goal.
It was never going to be an easy ride for the green machine due to two factors: Firstly, TP Mazembe were unbeaten for 33 games in the CAF Champions League going into this game (now 34 due to the draw), and secondly was the fact that Makepekepe only arrived for the match in the DRC on the day, meaning that they weren’t able to acclimatize like most teams would have liked.
Those fears were quickly put to ease after the green machine opened the scoring through Abbas Amidu after just 44 seconds. The forward was brilliantly played on by Ronald Chitiyo and he kept his end of the bargain, as his deflected shot crept past TP Mazembe goalie Gbohouo Guelassiognon.
However eight minutes later Mazembe struck back through unfortunate circumstances, after Caps goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda was unable to control a Koumane Koffi shot, which gifted Rainford Kalaba an easy opportunity which he took to restore parity for the hosts.
From that point onwards it became a war of attrition, as five time continental champions Mazembe kept Caps under constant pressure for the rest of the match. Sibanda had to shake of his blunder in a hurry, as his goal was under constant threat, particularly on the left flank where Mazembe time and time again found space to create havoc.
It was a baptism of fire for Valentine Musarurwa, who had replaced the injured Ronald Pfumbidzai at fullback position, and his inexperience against his seasoned opponents showed at times.
Ultimately, CAPS kept their cool despite the pressure and will now go into the return tie with their heads held high, as they know that even a goalless stalemate will be enough for them to record a famous victory and advance to the next round of the CAF Champions League.