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Mapeza resists major changes

by Staff reporter
30 Sep 2021 at 07:14hrs | Views
NORMAN Mapeza has resisted the temptation of making wholesale changes by backing the Warriors, who have been fighting, in the 2022 World Cup qualifying trenches.

The interim coach named a 24-member provisional team, for next month's back-to-back ties, against the Black Stars of Ghana.

The Warriors will take on the four-time African champions at the Cape Gold Stadium on October 9.

They will then host the West Africans, at the National Sports Stadium, on October 12.

Mapeza replaced the hapless Zdravko Logarusic, who started the campaign.

The Croat was finally axed, when ZIFA eventually ran out of patience, with his misfiring.

Loga, who was always a dangerous gamble for the association, given his limited experience in charge of national teams, won just one of his 14 matches.

He left with the unenviable record of being the only Warriors coach whose team was bottom of their table, in all the competitions, in which he took charge of.

The Zimbabwe senior national football team finished last, at the CHAN finals, in Cameroon, earlier this year.

They then also finished bottom of their group, at the COSAFA Cup, in South Africa, this year.

By the time Loga was dismissed, from his post, the Warriors were bottom of their 2022 World Cup qualifying group.

Without a goal, or a victory, in their first two matches, they find themselves already trailing leaders Bafana Bafana, by three points, with one match, of the first round qualifiers, to play.

In the event they fall to Ghana, next week, and Bafana Bafana beat Ethiopia, the Warriors will find themselves trailing the leaders by six points, after just three games.

This means Mapeza badly requires to find a way to revive a team which, in recent matches, has certainly struggled to punch according to their weight.

The expectation was that the interim coach would wield the axe, and dump many of the players, who have failed to justify their presence, in the Warriors colours.

However, he decided to go with Loga's script even when the fear is that come players are now just hanging on in the team, because of their past.

Mapeza will probably argue that, unlike the Serb coach, he is a man who knows how to bring the best out of these players.

"It's not going to be easy, but I will try my level best to revive this World Cup campaign,'' he told The Herald.

"I think, after the previous results, definitely, the confidence will be low among the players, and the nation at large.

"It's like everybody is down but, like I said, I will try my best to bring this campaign back to life and try to bring confidence back into the boys.

"The immediate task is reviving the World Cup campaign. I think I have done it before, when I was asked to help the team in 2017, I was also at FC Platinum during that time.

"So, it's not something new to me.''

Mapeza retained nine players who featured for the Warriors, in last month's Group G World Cup matches, against Bafana Bafana and Ethiopia.

They are goalkeeper Talbert Shumba, Alec Mudimu, Onismor Bhasera, Marshal Munetsi, Kuda Mahachi, Khama Billiat, Terence Dzvukamanja, Knowledge Musona and Thabani Kamusoko.

Golden Arrows striker, Knox Mutizwa, is also back after he missed the previous matches due to Covid-19.

Mapeza has dropped Nkana defender Takudzwa Chimwemwe and winger Ishmael Wadi, who turns out for JDR in the South African Glad Africa Championship.

Divine Lunga and Tino Kadewere remain injury concerns.

Lunga was injured on Tuesday, during his debut match at Mamelodi Sundowns, when he was stretched out, in the 67th minute, after he suffered a knock on the head.

He scored in that game.

Mapeza also named the England-based players, who missed the opening World Cup qualifiers, after they were not released by their clubs, due to the United Kingdom travel restrictions.

The clubs have pledged to release the players for the first match in Ghana, on October 9.

ZIFA are still negotiating for the players to proceed to Harare, for the reverse fixture, three days later.

Mapeza has not called up England-based forward Admiral Muskwe, who turns out for Luton.

But, Plymouth Argyle defender, Brendan Galloway, is in the squad.

As revealed by The Herald yesterday, Mapeza has drafted in Azam midfielders, Never Tigere and Bruce Kangwa.

There was also a surprise call up for his FC Platinum players' midfielder, Kelvin Madzongwe, and striker-turned-defender Rahman Kutsanzira.

The Zvishavane miners are the only team, in the local league, who had been active, before the domestic season resumed yesterday.

They recently featured in the CAF Champions League preliminary round matches.

Warriors Squad

Goalkeepers:  Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF), Talbert Shumba (Free State Stars), Washington Arubi (Marumo Gallants).

Defenders:  Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi), Brendan Galloway (Plymouth Argyle), Bruce Kangwa (Azam), Jordan Zemura (AFC Bournemouth), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United), Rahman Kutsanzira (FC Platinum), Teenage Hadebe (Houston Dynamo), Tendayi Darikwa (Wigan Athletic).

Midfielders: Blessing Sarupinda (Sekhukhune United), Farai Madhanaga (Marumo Gallants), Kelvin Madzongwe (FC Platinum), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Kudakwashe Mahachi (SuperSport United), Marshall Munetsi (Stade de Reims), Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Never Tigere (Azam), Perfect Chikwende (Simba SC), Thabani Kamusoko (Zesco United).

Strikers: Knowledge Musona (Al-Tai), Knox Mutizwa (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Orlando Pirates).

Source - The Herald