As they embarked on a run of fixtures to recover time lost during Champions League matches, Caps United fell 3-1 to Chicken Inn on Wednesday afternoon at Luveve Stadium.
Caps have a huge backlog of fixtures to clear in order to catch up with other teams, but those games in hand can no longer guarantee the Champions a chance to retain their title.
A 3-1 loss to Chicken Inn, who now top the log with 38 points, left Caps United stuck in 16th position on a paltry 14 points from 13 games, with 6 more games in hand to play.
A congested programme due to the Champions’ participation in the Champions League may have taken its toll on Caps United players, if fatigue can be attributed to the several reasons why their title defence has been going so wrong.
At this stage [after 13 games] during the 2016 season, Caps United had lost just once, and throughout the championship winning season, they lost just three games [How Mine 3:1; Highlanders 2:1; Bulawayo City 3:1].
Five losses after just 13 games may not be just a hiccup for the Champions anymore, especially considering that their six rescheduled fixtures consist of high profile clashes with FC Platinum, Highlanders and Dynamos. The game against Bulawayo City may appear to be a routine win but the Bulawayo side is among the three teams to have inflicted defeat on Makepekepe last season.
Lloyd Chitembwe has another assignment which may prove to be challenging for his struggling team when Sunday Chidzambwa and ZPC Kariba visit on Sunday. The reverse ended in a 2-1 defeat for the green machine.
Having scored four goals in as many games, Caps United’s struggles upfront are far less catastrophic compared to a porous defence which has conceded nine times in just four premier league games.
The departure of Dennis Dauda and injuries to Hardlife Zvirekwi and Edmore Sibanda left the Caps United rear guard exposed.
How and when the Champions will recover from the enigmatic slump will certainly help provide answers as to why they are in this situation in the first place.