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CAPS United dealt Rooney blow

HARARE-(NEWSDAY)-CAPS United will be without star midfielder Ronald
“Rooney” Chitiyo when they host Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
giants TP Mazembe in the Confederation of African Football (Caf)
Champions League first round second leg at the National Sports Stadium
on Sunday, dealing a huge blow to the hosts’ chances of progressing to
the group stage of the tournament.

The midfielder, who has been a standout performer for the Green
Machine in their campaign so far, is suspended for the match after
accumulating two yellow cards in the last two matches.

Rooney was shown a yellow card in the first leg against TP Mazembe in
Lubumbashi on Sunday where Caps United fought out a commendable 1-1
draw, which has thrust them closer to qualification to the lucrative
group stages in the continental premier club competition.

It was his second caution in two matches, having been given his first
yellow card in the previous round for pulling out his shirt after
scoring the winner in the 2-1 win over Lesotho champions Lioli, a
victory that earned them passage to the first round.

According to Caf rules, if a player picks up two yellow cards, he
automatically misses the following match.

“A player who receives two cautions shall be automatically suspended
from playing the subsequent match in the Caf inter-clubs
competitions,” the Caf Champions League regulations read.

His absence will be a huge loss for the Green Machine as the playmaker
has been instrumental since crossing the floor from Harare City at the
start of the season.

Rooney was central in Caps United’s vital away goal in the DRC at the
weekend, which was scored by Abbasi Amidu after just 44 seconds, when
he raced past a defender on the touchline, before teeing the striker
to finish off.

Caps United vice-captain Hardlife Zvirekwi admitted Rooney’s absence
would be a huge blow, but believes they have enough cover, with
Tafadzwa Rusike set to be the major beneficiary.

Zvirekwi said while they have put themselves well on course to qualify
for the group stage, he knows there is still a lot of work to be done
before they can start to celebrate.

“We played very well and got a very good result away, but that will
count for nothing if we lose at the weekend,” Zvirekwi told
NewsDaySport yesterday.

“It was a tough match away, against a quality side who put us under a
lot of pressure, but we stood our ground and managed to grind out a
result. I should commend the team for that. There was unity and a
great desire to get the result we wanted.”

Caps United could have come out with a win, but a mistake by
goalkeeper Edmore “Zikeeper” Sibanda, who failed to gather what
appeared a harmless shot, gifted Rainford Kalaba with a chance from
the rebound for the equaliser.

However, Zvirekwi refused to blame his goalkeeper for the mishap.

“Mistakes do happen in football, and we can’t blame anyone for the
goal. It was a collective mistake which we should all take
responsibility for. We should have put pressure on the striker so he
could not strike. We (in-field players) also made mistakes, but his
(Sibanda) was easily noticeable because he is the last man and his
error ended in a goal. Besides that mistake, for me, he was our best
player. He made brilliant saves that kept us in the game.

“The game is still anyone’s. We both have a chance to progress so we
need to keep focuswed and avoid too many mistakes. We need to improve
on our ball retention and the general marking,” Zvirekwi added.

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