ALGIERS – CAPS United have the perfect chance to pick up their first away win in the African Champions League and qualify for the quarter-finals when they take on USM Alger (USMA) tonight at Omar Hamadi Stadium in Algiers.
Kick-off is 9pm local time.
The Green Machine face USMA knowing they are masters of their own destiny and only a win would guarantee them passage to the last eight of the tournament for the first time in the club’s history.
Lloyd Chitembwe’s charges revived their bid for the knockout stage when they shocked Egyptian giants Zamalek 3-1 last weekend at the National Sports Stadium in Harare to ensure their group will be decided on the last day.
Makepekepe currently sit third on the log standings with only two teams from the group progressing to the quarter-finals.
USMA are on top of the group with eight points alongside Al Ahli Tripoli who face Zamelek this evening in the other group match.
And unlike CAPS United, USMA could still go through to the next round if they salvage a draw in tonight’s encounter.
CAPS United assistant coach Mark Mathe believes they have done enough homework to secure their first away win in the tournament.
“We will approach the game with a positive attitude, with a good strategy but we bear in mind that we haven’t been performing well in most of our away games in this tournament,” Mathe said.
“But here is another game where we are playing away from home so we seek to improve on that and get a positive result.
“As coaches, you play games and analyse so our poor performance away from home in this competition we attribute it to lack of concentration on crucial times and organisation and we have been working on that very much in our training sessions.
“And we keep on emphasising it to the boys that concentration should be high until the end and also the organisation especially defensively. We should not let in easy goals which are morale sapping.”
Mathe added: “If we have to attack we have to attack effectively and if we are to defend we also have to defend effectively because it’s a game where we want three points and three points only.
“But we respect USMA. They came to Harare and we beat them and we know this time around it will be very difficult in respect of what they want to achieve and what we want to achieve that is getting maximum points.”
Mathe added that they needed to emulate their last weekend’s performance against Zamalek which ultimately meant that their group will be decided right on the last day as all the four teams still have an opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals.
“You can never reach a stage where you say you have done enough, it’s a process and we are still within the process and what we have said to the lads is let’s play with passion, let’s play with an open mind let’s not put ourselves under pressure and that should see us through,” he said.
“There is everything to play for in this game. We have told the lads that if we had lost our match against Zamalek in Harare last week, this could have been a dead rubber but here comes an opportunity.
“At one point we were viewed as out of contention but after we beat Zamalek we are back and there is everything to play for. It’s more like a final and we know that if we beat USM Alger we progress to the semifinals and that’s where the focus is at.”
Mathe also spoke highly of goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba, who is also likely to start in the absence of Edmore Sibanda, who could not make the trip as he is battling an injury.
“Prosper has been excellent and working hard at training. But you should know that Prosper Chigumba is an experienced goalkeeper, some people think he is a rookie but he has been there in the business,” he said.
“So currently he deserves to be the first choice and we don’t doubt that he will do a good job if he is selected to start.”