MASERU – Zimbabwe’s representatives in the African Champions League CAPS United are hoping to keep a clean sheet and possibly sneak an away goal when they begin their campaign against Lesotho champions Lioli Football Club.
The match kicks-off at 4:00pm.
The two teams meet this afternoon at Setsoto Stadium in the first round first leg with the second leg scheduled for the National Sports Stadium in Harare next weekend.
And speaking ahead of the game soon after the team’s arrival here yesterday, Makepekepe striker Dominic Chungwa said they will be looking to shut out the home side before finishing the game at home.
“It will be important if we can get an away goal before we can finish them off in the second leg in Harare. It’s always an advantage getting an away goal especially in these Africa games,” Chungwa told the Daily News.
“We are just looking forward to go and get a good result.”
In the absence of Leonard Tsipa, who was the PSL Golden Boot winner last season with 11 goals when Makepekepe clinched the title, Chungwa is expected to play the leading role upfront in the Green Machine’s quest for goals.
Tsipa was de-registered for the tournament after he went on a club hunting mission at a time the club was finalising their squad for the African Safari.
Chungwa said he does not feel any pressure and is ready to deliver if he is given the nod to start.
“I don’t think there is any pressure and I am ready if the technical staff chose me to start,” Chungwa said.
“Obviously as a striker we are expected to score goals so I will just need to go out there and play my part.”
CAPS United will making their fourth appearance in the modern edition of the tournament after playing in 1997, 2005 and 2006 but has not reached the group stages.
However, Chungwa have rallied his team-mates to go down in the club’s history books by becoming the first crop to achieve that feat.
“We want to go down in the history books as the CAPS United team who qualified for the mini league. I think we are capable of achieving that but what is important right now is for us to focus with Lioli then we will think of other teams later,” said Chungwa.
United were not able to train at the match venue ahead of today’s match due to the heavy rains pounding Maseru.
The Green Machine arrived in the Lesotho capital just after 4 pm and were scheduled to get a feel of the match venue at 5pm.
However, it was not possible because of the torrential downpour pounding Maseru yesterday.
According to the weather forecast, it is also likely to raining this afternoon.
Today’s match will be the Green Machine’s first competitive game since they clinched the Zimbabwe championship in November 2016.
With the Zimbabwe top flight league on off season, United have had to prepare for this important encounter using international warm-up matches.
The Green Machine beat Mozambique champions Ferroviario da Beira 2-0 at the National Sports Stadium last month before travelling to Lusaka, Zambia to intensify their preparations.
In Lusaka, Lloyd Chitembwe’s side lost 2-0 to Red Arrows before ending their tour with a 2-1 victory over Zambian champions Zanaco.
On the other hand, Lioli have already passed the midway stage of the Lesotho 2016-17 season with Tse Nale currently sit in second place on the log just a single point behind leaders Bantu after 16 round of matches.
Last weekend, Lioli warmed-up to their match against CAPS with a 3-0 victory over Likhopo in the first leg of the LNIG Top 8 quarter-final.
Should CAPS United get past Lioli, they will secure a final qualifying round clash against five-time African champions TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Meanwhile, Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya is confident of a positive result when his charges face Mauritius side Pamplemousses Sporting Club in the first leg of the preliminary round of their African Confederation Cup tomorrow.
Speaking to the Daily News at OR Tambo Airport before his team’s connection to Port Louis yesterday, Ndiraya expressed confidence in his charges.
“We are ready for the match.” he said. “In terms of fitness we are not yet there but we played some important friendly matches which put us in good shape.”
The Chibuku Super Cup winners’ preparedness ahead of the African Safari was put to test after touring Zambia last week in which they played three international friendly matches.
Of the three games Ngezi lost one while drawing twice although their last match against Zambian champions Zanaco was abandoned at half time due to heavy rains.
“It gave us real African football test. We played three top teams in Zambia and it was a good preparation and should put us in good stead for this game,” added Ndiraya.
In the event that the platinum miners negotiate their way past Pamplemousses SC, they will meet Angolan side CD Libolo in the final qualifying round.