GWERU – Tafadzwa Dube was the hero once again as CAPS United stormed into the semifinals of the Mbada Diamonds Cup after edging Chicken Inn 2-1 in a pulsating match at Ascot Stadium on Saturday.
Dube, who was voted man-of-the-match, pulled of some stunning saves to help his team into the last four as the Gamecocks pushed for an equaliser.
Makepekepe got their goals from Tawanda Nyamandwe and David Rediyoni, who both exploited some poor marking at set pieces by the Chicken Inn defence.
The Gamecocks got their goal from a blistering long range effort by left back Brian Mbiriri that for once Dube could not get his hands to.
Chicken Inn, however felt hard done by referee Thabani Bamala, who denied them what seemed like a genuine penalty when Clemence Matawu was brought down in the box by CAPS defender Stephen Makatuka in the 74th minute.
Chicken Inn coach Mandla Mpofu said: “I’m not the best person top comment about refereeing. We expected more from him (referee) but at the end of the day we have to bear with him as he has the final say.
“Otherwise I was not happy with the way we defended. We failed in organising at the back. CAPS always looked dangerous on set pieces. We could have conceded more goals in the first half.
“We picked up ourselves in the second half and we also missed a lot chances but like I said before CAPS is a big team, we gave our best here.”
True to Mpofu’s words, the Gamecocks were awful at defending at set pieces as United found their two goals from corners.
Chicken Inn goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni and his defence were always at sixes and sevens without a clear plan of who to pick inside the box at corners.
Makepekepe started on the front foot and could have surged ahead in the first minute but Hardlife Zvirekwi shot after a quick exchange with Nyamandwe was well blocked by defenders.
Nyamandwe and Dominic Chungwa all came close to opening the scoring in those frantic opening minutes but they, however proved wasteful in front of goal.
Makepekepe fans, who filled the venue, would not have to wait long for their team’s opening goal to come as an unmarked Nyamandwe headed from close range Ronald Pfumbidzayi’s corner on 18 minutes.
After conceding, Kuda Mahachi and Tendai Mukambi began to settle into the game allowing Chicken Inn some inroads into the CAPS half but they found a stumbling block in Dube.
After the break, the Gamecocks returned a more determined side and found the equaliser in the 50th minute through Mbiriri’s scorching drive that gave Dube no chance.
Tawanda Mangwiro responded by bringing in Rediyoni and Moses Muchenje for Chungwa and the injured Zvirekwi.
It was a masterstroke as in the 60th minute Rediyoni restored United’s lead with a powerful header as Chicken inn were once again exposed at the corner.
Moments later, powered by their well-travelled fans, United thought they had gone 3-1 up but Nyamandwe’s goal was disallowed for offside.
With Chicken Inn threatening for an equaliser, Matawu was hacked down inside the area by Makutuka but surprising, Malaba blew against the midfielder.
Four minutes before fulltime, Mbiriri saw his effort from an indirect free kick crash off the crossbar with Dube well beaten.
CAPS coach Taurai Mangwiro, who had quit the club last weekend before returning on Tuesday said: “We worked very hard as a unit and I’m happy we managed to progress to the next round of the competition.
“I told the players before the match to forget about what happened during the week. Chicken Inn is a strong side and I think we did well.”