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Date: 22 April 2019

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Mapeza stands ground on regulars' exclusion

[Posted 19 Aug 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Nyandoro, Matola, Benjani celebrate a goal in Egypt in 2006. Trio is not in latest Warriors squad


The Zimbabwe caretaker coach Norman Mapeza has defended his decision not to name Warriors captain Benjamin 'Benjani' Mwaruwari and several other former regulars in his 36 squad released earlier this week.

Mapeza even went as far as arguing that he did not even need to speak to his captain about excluded him from the Warriors squad named this week. He reportedly further argued that it is not about how Benani feels about the decision to drop him, but about what is right for the national team's success, informed by the current form of all players.

Responding to a question from the Zimbabwean Chronicle on whether he had spoken to his captain about his omission from the squad, the former Zimbabwe captain did not answer it directly.

“I cannot just pick players who are not playing, we need to assess all our players regularly in order to come up with a well informed selection, not just picking somebody because of past performances,” Mapeza said.

“If Benji gets a team and starts playing regularly then we will certainly recall him to the team but as for now he has to focus on getting employed,” the man they called Mushini wamajezi during his playing days, added.

On why he did not pick Nyandoro, Mapeza was even less diplomatic about is reasons for excluding the veteran midfielder.

"...As for Nyandoro, I looked at the age factor, especially looking at the position that he plays in,” Mapeza explained. The Warriors coach went on to explain further that he intends to give youngsters in the team such as SA-based Lionel Mtizwa and Justice Majabvi from Austrian club LASK Linz an opportunity to build their Warrioirs careers.

He however did not close the door completely on any of the dropped regulars such as Nyandoro, Benjani and Nengomasha.

“We will continue monitoring Nyandoro’s performance and if we feel he might come in handy we will certainly rope him in. As for Nengomasha and Mwaruwari, they need to find clubs, then we will take it from there,”  Mapeza stated.

There are other senior Warriors players who have not been called into camp and Mapeza has not found time to explain their absence.

Cephas Chimedza was in outstanding form last season for St Truiden in Belgium's Jupiler League. Vusa Nyoni of Cercle Bruges in Belgium and young Ovidy Karuru of Bolougne in France were called into camp for the Brazil friendly match, but have not been inclued in the latest squad announcement.

Joseph Ngwenya from Houston Dynamo in the USA, who was part of the failed 2010 AFCON campaign, Dickson Choto and Takesure Chinyama of Polish giants Legia Warsaw also find themselves on the sidelines. Perhaps it is expecting too much of the coach to give explanations for all these omissions. Besides, there are only 18 places on the Warriors squad. Surely not all these players can find space onto the squad on one goal.

Probably what Mapeza needs most at this juncture is to get an opportunity to train with his selected squad. Oh! Wait a minute! Mapeza needs to know from ZIFA if the foreign contigent he has selected will arrive on time for camp, or at all get tickets to fly in for  national duty.

Whether the nation agrees with Mapeza's team selection or not is immaterial at this stage. The coach's decision needs to be respected and the man needs the support of his employers at ZIFA House and the nation at large.

What sounds refreshing from the words of Mapeza in fielding questions from journalists is that the young coach sounds like a man of principle and a good leader who understands that he has to make decisions which he will have to live with.

Zimbabwean football is better off without journalists choosing teams for national coaches. Ours is a country where sports writers are torn apart on the grounds of either club allegiance or worse still, on Southern or Northern region basis. If the coach at all had to listen to reporters, which side could at all be the safer side to lean on?

A national team coach must be allowed to be his own man. Yet he should understand that he will be judged on the results or impact of the decisions he will make regarding team selection.

Coaching the Warriors under ZIFA administration can be such a daunting task, unless the ZIFA we have come to know has changed in 2010 going forward. Should we spare a thought for Nomara, or has the new age in Zimbabwean soccer finally arrived?

The next six months will tell. We will tell by the impact of ZIFA's on-going house cleansing exercise, the decision to name the Warriors new coach or allow sanity to prevail by choosing continuity to avoid disrupting the rythym of the team Mapeza is trying hard to build.


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