HARARE – Goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda was the hero for CAPS United as he made a number of point blank saves against Lioli FC as the Green Machine reached the first round of the African Champions League.
It was a heartbreaking and cruel defeat for Lioli FC as they seemed destined for a shock result after Tsepo Seturumane gave them a 20th minute lead.
However, Makepekepe rallied back to win the game courtesy of two quick fire second half goals from Simba Nhivi and Ronald Chitiyo.
But before the turn around in the second half, Sibanda had kept his side in the game by making numerous world-class saves with Lioli threatening to run away with the match.
The Makepekepe goalkeeper first pulled off a stunning save in the 10th minute to deny Tsepo Lekhooana following a mistake by Dennis Dauda.
With Lioli threatening every time they ventured forward with their lively winger Tumelo Makhopo giving CAPS full back Ronald Pfumbidzai a torrid time, it was left to Sibanda to be the last line of defence.
There was nothing the bog goalkeeper could do though to prevent Seturumane from giving his side the lead when he arrived at the back post to finish off a cross from Makhopo.
The Lesotho champions almost increased their lead but Sibanda was again forced to stretch and tip for a corner Seturumane’s well taken effort from outside the box.
Six minutes later Sibanda denied Lekhooana point blank as the Green Machine struggled to contain Lioli forwards.
However, everything changed after the break when Lloyd Chitembwe took out inactive Tafadzwa Rusike for Abbas Amidu while Cabby Kamhapa replaced Joel Ngodzo.
The substitutions paid the dividends eventually as Nhivi went on to equalise for home side in the 52nd minutes after he controlled a Chitiyo long ball to beat Lioli keeper Liteboho Mekhehle.
Chitiyo doubled CAPS’s lead three minutes later when he rounded off the Lioli keeper to score into an empty net.
From there, CAPS were all over the Lesotho side but could not increase their tally.
Chitembwe was happy with the result as they now look forward to face five-time African champions TP Mazembe of Democratic republic of Congo.
“I was very happy with the way we played today as compared to how the boys played in Lesotho,” a much relieved Chitembwe said after the game.
“It’s still work in progress we have a lot of things that we still need to work on and improve. One can understand that we are still in off season and our performance is expected.
“Hopefully by the time we hit five or six games I am sure we will be much sharper and very competitive.”
Chitembwe added: “The turning point in as far as I am concerned is the substitutions that we made. Fire (Tafadzwa Rusike) was good but in terms of giving us the forward thrust that we wanted I am sure he was not as explosive as would have liked.
“Abbas came in and I thought he was explosive and looked threatening each time he was in possession which was the turning point for us.”
CAPS United: Edmore Sibanda, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Ronald Pfumbidzai, Dennis Dauda, Justice Jangano, Devon Chafa, Tafadzwa Rusike, Joel Ngodzo, Ronald Chitiyo, Simba Nhivi, Phineas Bhamusi
Lioli FC: Liteboho Mekehle, Shetsawe Ramoseka, Mafa Moremoholo, Bokawa Sello, Kopawo Tseka, Tsoanelo Koetle, Jeremea Kamela, Bushy Moletsane, Tumelo Khutlang, Tsepo Seturumawe, Tsepo Lekhoonama