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Mapeza speaks on Warriors team selection criteria

by Staff reporter
23 Sep 2021 at 06:16hrs | Views
INTERIM Warriors coach Norman Mapeza says although he will not make wholesale changes to playing personnel who have been part of the national team setup, moving forward, playing outside the country is no longer a guarantee for a call-up. He said players will now be called on merit, with game time being a major determining factor.

Mapeza said he would rather select an in-form locally-based player to a bench warmer in Europe or South Africa. He told Chronicle Sport ahead of the Warriors' squad announcement for next month's back-to-back Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Ghana that the bulk of his players will be those that have been in the national team setup because they have been active at their clubs, while only FC Platinum is the only local team that has been playing.

"I cannot come in and change everything at this particular time. I need to give the bulk of those players a chance for me to assess them. Locally I cannot talk of anything because there is no football, so I can only concentrate on say centre-backs, who were already part of the setup. After seeing them, I may then make positional changes to say look, you play as a centre-back, but I think you are better off as a left-back or midfielder," said Mapeza.

"The issue here is that I have to give those guys who are already part of the team an opportunity because in any event they are the same players who are active even in those lower leagues. When I meet these guys, I will get contacts of their coaches so that I am in touch with them to find out how each particular player is performing.

"Are they playing regularly; what are the challenges he needs to improve on so that when or if he comes to the national team, we know exactly what we need to do. We are not just going to call-up people for the sake of calling them, simply because someone is playing outside the country; no, we won't do that," he said.

Almost certain to be part of the squad for the Ghana trip is Golden Arrows striker Knox Mutizwa, who missed the shock 0-1 defeat away to Ethiopia after testing positive for Covid-19.

"I have been in constant touch with his coach Mabhudi Khanyeza, who has told me that he (Mutizwa) has been on and off, but I then ask myself which other strikers are playing regularly and your guess is as good as mine. Khama will be suspended so maybe I may need Knox," said Mapeza.

Prince Dube has been ruled out after undergoing an operation recently, but his Azam teammates Bruce Kangwa and Never Tigere are being considered.

"I spoke to someone at Azam regarding Never Tigere and Bruce Kangwa. Prince Dube is injured, he is out of the equation, he recently underwent an operation, so we are only concentrating on Never and Bruce. If I hear what I want to hear, I may consider them."

He expressed concern over the lack of game time for left-back Divine Lunga ever since he joined South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, and said he will be getting in touch with Peter Ndlovu to find out exactly what the challenge could be.

"If it's an issue of papers I would understand, but then I would want to know how he is performing even at training; it will give me an idea of what steps to take," said Mapeza.

Mapeza takes over a team that is bottom of their group with a single point and yet to score in the two matches they've played. He will be assisted by Highlanders' Mandla Mpofu and Tawurayi Mangwiro of Triangle United, while the goalkeepers' coach is Energy Murambadoro from Chicken Inn.

Source - the herald