21 February 2017
CAPS United coach Lloyd Chitembwe has defended Hardlife Zvirekwi despite a poor show in the preliminary round of the CAF Champions League against Lioli FC of Lesotho.
Zvirekwi, who wore the captain’s armband was one of United’s poor performers in Maseru in which his wing was exposed before another nightmarish afternoon at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
There were reports that Chitembwe was upset by his side’s first half show and lack of leadership shown by stand-in captain.
Chitembwe justified Zvirekwi’s performance saying he was tired and needed rest after playing football for nearly 14 months.
“There comes a time when a player gets tired. It’s all about fatigue. It’s not just about the game but traveling can be hectic. We have been trying to manage him but it basically fatigue catching up with him.
“He started playing football in January last year when we toured Mozambique. He has been involved in every national team competition including the AFCON qualifiers, Chan matches and COSAFA tournament.
“For the club, he was the most consistent player who played 28 games in our title championship season excluding cup games and other competitions.
“I think it been too much for him and he is overwhelmed,” he said.
“When he returned from Gabon, he only had a few days to rest before he joined us. It’s not about the game but he has been all over the show and has been traveling.”
On fans booing Zvirekwi, Chitembwe believes the criticism of his star is normal due to the high standards he has set in his career.
“The criticism we have both received for poor performances is normal. It’s expected from fans. They needed a goal. Football is a very emotional game. Remember he is a national team player. He is the reigning soccer star of the year. “There is a lot expected from him and it’s normal. It is normal to attract bad reviews if you lose your grip. It is inevitable, because that is how it works.
“At the end of the day, he is a winner and will remain a winner,” Chitembwe added.