HARARE – Zimbabwe’s representatives in Africa, CAPS United and Ngezi Platinum Stars reached the next round of their competitions but a lot needs to be done if they are to go far.
Ngezi Platinum progressed to the first round of the Confederation Cup on Saturday with a slender 1-0 victory over Pamplemousses of Mauritius at the National Sports Stadium to book a date against Angolan side CD Libolo.
Terrence Dzvukamanja scored the solitary strike to ensure the platinum miners progressed 2-1 on aggregate having played a 1-1 draw in the first leg a week ago.
However, it was not one of the best performances as Tonderai Ndiraya’s charges lacked cohesion for larger parts of the game.
Of course Madamburo were solid in defence as Ndiraya chose to start with five defenders at the back but it was in the midfield where they lacked any creativity which starved their forwards of a constant supply.
It was actually he visitors, who enjoyed a lot of possession especially in the midfield and looked threatening with some well calculated counter attacks but they could not make it count.
However with Libolo, who are obviously more superior opponents than Pamplemousses, waiting in the first round, Ngezi should really work hard if they fancy any chances of reaching the final qualifying round of the competition.
“We struggled a bit with fitness but what matters at this stage is the result,” Ndiraya said.
“That’s what we told ourselves we came here needed to get the result. We are through to the next round but we have to work hard more than what we have been doing and get to the position that acceptable in African football.
“Our next opponents are not pushovers so we really need to take a gear up.”
It was the same scenario for CAPS United on Sunday at the same venue, who had goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda to thank after the former Warriors international made a couple of point blank saves to deny a determined Lioli FC in a Champions League qualifier.
Lloyd Chitembwe’s side put in a lethargic performance in the first half as they went into the break trailing 0-1 after Tsepo Seturumane’s 20th strike for Tse Nale.
At that point, Makepekepe should have been trailing at least 0-4 had it not been for Sibanda’s heroics as he denied the Lesotho side on numerous occasions.
In the end, the Green Machine recovered in the second half after two quick goals from Simba Nhivi and new boy Ronald Chitiyo shortly after the break.
United will now meet DRC powerhouses TP Mazembe in the first round next month hoping to make the group stages of the competition for the first time in the club’s history.
Makepekepe also need to improve if they are to upset the five-time African champions and Chitembwe admitted they are still not conditioned to these aristocrats of continental football.
“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,” Chitembwe said.
“Hopefully by the time we hit five or six games I am sure we will be much sharper and very competitive.”
Meanwhile, Ronald Chitiyo was delighted after he netted the Green Machine’s winner in his second match after joining from Harare City.
“I could not even believe it myself. I was very happy that I scored, it was very difficult game,” Chitiyo said after the game.