HARARE – After scrapping out to a goalless draw last weekend in Maseru, CAPS United need to step up their game to beat Lioli FC this afternoon to reach the first round of the African Champions League.
Makepekepe host the Lesotho champions at the National Sports Stadium.
Kick-off is at 3pm.
Although he was pleased with the grit shown by his side under difficult circumstances at the Setsoto Stadium last weekend, Makepekepe coach Lloyd Chitembwe would be looking for more especially going forward from his side.
In Maseru , United failed to train at the match venue after heavy rains forced them to change their programme on the eve of the first leg.
Chitembwe was also forced to change his line-up a few minutes before kick-off after the match commissioner pointed out that midfielder Joel Ngodzo’s documents were not in order.
In the end, Cabby Kamhapa had to come into the starting XI to replace Ngodzo while defender Kudzai Nyamupfukudza also had a similar problem leaving the Green Machine with only five substitutes.
Despite all these problems, Makepekepe were in control of the first leg for many periods but they did little to trouble Tse Nale keeper Liteboho Mokhehle.
Since they were playing away from home, Chitembwe chose to start with a conservative formation with Dominic Chungwa the only striker up front.
Makepekepe’s best chances to get an away goal in Maseru fell to midfielder Abbas Amidu as United struggled to adjust to the artificial turf at the venue.
This afternoon, Chitembwe will be compelled to go for a more adventurous and attack-minded line-up since only a win will guarantee the Zimbabwean champions passage into the next round.
It’s highly likely Makepekepe will start with Chungwa and Simba Nhivi as the focal point of the attack upfront.
With Ngodzo’s documents now in order, Chitembwe now has more options in midfield with Kamhapa, Amidu, Phenius Bamusi, Ronald Chitiyo and Tafadzwa Rusike vying for a starting place in the offensive roles.
With the National Sports Stadium pitch wider than to what Lioli are used to at Sethoto, Makepekepe’s best chance of breaking down the visitors will be down the wings.
Starting with Rusike down the left and Bamusi on the right will be the most logical option to choose for Chitembwe.
There is now doubt that Makepekepe will be on the score sheet this afternoon as they have turned the National Sports Stadium into a fortress.
Makepekepe only lost once at the venue last season when the bowed out of the Chibuku Super Cup in the first round on penalties to Tsholotsho.
However, Tse Nale also showed they are a capable side in the first leg as they had the CAPS defence scrambling at times.
Lioli base their game on their ability to break at pace using winger Tumelo Makhopo’s speed on the right side.
They are likely to play the same way today hoping to catch Makepekepe on the counter.
However, CAPS should not fall into this trap because what the players should understand is that only a single goal will be enough to win the tie.
Makepekepe needs cool heads even if Lioli sit back and defend in numbers because they might leave spaces for the visitors to exploit on the break.