HARARE – CAPS United defender Hardlife Zvirekwi has hailed his team’s qualification for the African Champions League group stages describing it as a “huge accomplishment and the beginning of more great things to come”.
The Green Machine defied odds to dump five-time African champions TP Mazembe of DR Congo out of the tournament courtesy of the away goals rule.
The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in Lubumbashi a week ago before Sunday’s goalless stalemate at the National Sports Stadium.
The result meant Makepekepe qualified for the Champions League group stages for the first time in the club’s history something Zvirekwi feels could mark the turnaround for the club going ahead.
“It’s massive, it’s big for the club, we have worked hard for it,” Zvirekwi told the Daily News.
“This has been one of our goals — to play in Africa and not just to add numbers but to compete and reach the group stages. We have accomplished one of our targets and it’s now time for us to focus on things that are ahead.
“I think it’s the beginning of bigger things to come. All we need to do is to keep our feet on the ground and keep on working hard and focus on things that are ahead of us.”
Zvirekwi credited their triumph to hard work by everyone at the club.
“It all goes to team work and team spirit like knowing what we want. It was a team work, everyone contributed massively and I think we deserve it,” Zvirekwi said.
“It’s not a secret that the group stages will not be easy but it will again come down to hard work like what we have been doing. It’s going to be the best of the best so we really need to do more as a team.”
Over both legs, Makepekepe were subjected to some constant pressure by the Ravens but their defence stood firm.
Goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda was in inspired form in the two matches as he made some wonderful saves to deny the Mazembe forwards.
TP Mazembe coach Thierry Froger was disappointed with how his side failed to kill off this tie despite dominating in possession and territory.
“Looking at the two games, we had too many opportunities but unfortunately we did not take those opportunities,” the Frenchman said.
“It’s sad that we have failed to qualify for the group stages for the second time in a row.”
The DR Congo side will now drop down to the play-off stage of the African Confederation Cup — a tournament they won last year.