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Date: 24 September 2017

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An Open Letter to Klaus Pagels- Interim Warriors coach

[Posted 05 Mar 2013]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
An Open Letter to Klaus Pagels- Interim Warriors coach
You named a final 18 squad for the Zimbabwe senior national soccer team's trip to Egypt to face the home side in a crucial  2014 World Cup qualifier. I must admit, your squad sounds as much of a joke as it is VERY worrying for any serious follower of the Warriors.

Zimbabwe are due to face Egypt in Alexandria on March 26, and the Warriors are on a mission to put their World Cup campaign back on track after managing only a point from two opening matches. And coach , you have surprised all and sundry by naming a squad of 18 players largely made up of inactive and match unfit players. Besides, the team worryingly lacks balance and stability.

The team you announced yesterday is made up of both locally and foreign-based players who are either just coming from off-season and seriously rusty, or have been inactive at their clubs and some of which are struggling to break into the final 18 at their respective clubs.

Coach, the squad you announced  has the following locally based players who are clearly rusty: Maxwell Nyamupangedengu, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Partson Jaure,  Ocean Mushure, Silas Songani, , Ronald Chitiyo, Augustine Mbara. These players, save for the Dynamos players have not had real match practice at international level and it is unfair to expect them to compete against the European-based stars in the Egyptian camp whose season is in full swing. Besides, the Egyptian squad has been playing a lot of friendly matches lately.

Of the foreign-based contingent, it is with some difficult to name a single player who has been playing regularly at his club and is in great form. The only form player in this squad is Washington Arubi of Pretoria University (AmaTuks) in South Africa.

Almost all the form players who play abroad have been excluded. The only players worth talking about in the current squad are Khama Billiat of struggling ABSA premiership side Ajax Cape Town, and Quincy Antipas from basement side in the Danish Super League, Brondby.

What is clear is that even for the two, Billiat and Quincy it can not be argued that they are at the top of their game this season.

Now, the rest of the foreign-based players have been part-time participants at their teams. Despite scoring four goals against an amateur side in the Nedbank league, Black Leopards striker  Abbas Amidu has been in and out of the first eleven or even the final 18 of the day. Denver Mukamba did not even make the final 18 for Bidvest Wits' 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs. Simba Sithole has not featured for Supersport in the last two matches, while Roderick Mutuma has been on the sidelines at Bloemfontein Celtic due to work permit challenges.

Of local players, Dynamos clearly demonstrated the lack of match fitness for local players who are just coming out of off-season, when they surprisingly lost 0-1 to Lesotho Correctional Services in the 2nd leg of the preliminary round of the Champions League over the weekend. Highlanders and CAPS United lost 0-2 and 1-4 respectively against Mamelodi Sundowns in international club friendlies recently, a sign that our locally-based players have not yet really gained match fitness to compete at international level.

Mr.Pagels, your team selection clearly demonstrates that you are either under an illusion about the task of coaching in Africa, especially when competing in World Cup qualifiers against the likes of Guinea and Egypt or you  have not done proper homework regarding the talent at your disposal. Beating light weights Botswana 2-1 in a friendly match at home is not an indication of the strength of the national team. I think your assistants must help you understand that coach!

While building, one must not throw away the baby and the bath water, Mr. Pagels. Granted some players might have failed in the AFCON qualifiers and early World Cup 2014 qualifiers, but their under performance was due to poor technical guidance and poor preparations than the quality of  all the players.

Do you have suitable and experienced players for your preferred 3-5-2 formation, or even if you switch to a traditional 4-4-2 formation? If you decide on a 3-5-2 formation, will you use Mushure, Zvasiya and Jaure? Are those the best players that Zimbabwe has?Are you  to be believed in insinuating that any of these players are better than Carlington Nyadombo in central defence, and can pass the ball better? How many games has Zvasiya played for Chiefs since last year to demonstrate his ability, Mr.Pagels?

Okay, assuming that you switch to a 4-4-2 formation, do you have players who are competitive enough at international level? Would Gilbert Mapemba, whom you used in an unfamiliar and unsuitable formation against Botswana not be a better choice on the right back ahead of Hardlife Zvirekwi? Is Mushure better than Poland-based Costa Nhamoinesu? Have you coach even bothered to follow the defender's progress in Europe in the colours of Zaglebie Lubin? Honestly, have you ever heard of this player Mr. Pagels?

In terms of midfield, coach, you seem to have ignored an inform central midfielder in Willard Katsande of Kaizer Chiefs, and I am sure you have  DStv dish to watch the ABSA premiership. Believe it or not Mr. Pagels, Esrom Nyandoro is clearly the most in-form holding midfielder that Zimbabwe has at the moment, but I know that you and your Zifa friends will start telling us that he was part of the failed AFCON campaign and that he is old.

Anyway, lets not talk about the issue of age in Africa to you Mr. Pagels, you may not understand the dynamics of forced age changes in African countries. The player you may assume to be younger might only be young on paper, but not as young in reality, even if the birth certificate says so. Therefore, please, do us a favour and choose players based on current form.

We have heard stories about building for the future, it has become an ideal very difficult to achieve where you have FAs in Africa who have a penchant for hiring and firing coaches. Oh, which reminds me Mr. Pagels, by the way how long is your contract with ZIFA?

Did you say 6-months? I agree with you. Which means that your lofty goal of building, while it sounds good and progressive, it is not balanced and does not bring us results. You need a highly organised FA ably supported by resources to organise training camps for the young team to gel more together over a period of time. If the current ZIFA struggles to pay for the team's hotel and foot the air tickets for the players, how can they be realistically expected to arrange a training camp, say in South Africa and give the young players time to develop as a team? You see my point?

You would rather seek to balance your preferred young players with some not so old players who will help bring stability to our beloved Warriors. You need players like Nyadombo and Costa Nhamoinesu at the back. These are two inform defenders, and you have advantage of their size and height too. You can then rope in young turks like Jaure or Zvasiya-BUT please ensure that Lincoln gets game time under his belt before you experiment with him in our dear Warriors.

Our midfield is crying out for the best talent that you seem to be ignoring with worrying disdain. We are not comfortable with you criticising some of our players like Bradley Pritchard in the media, describing him as not good enough. By the way, based on form, Pritchard is an in-form player, who was never given a fair chance by Rahman Gumbo, and you cannot judge a player whom you have never seen in a game situation. The Warriors need the good form and skills of Pritchard Mr. Pagels.

You also need Willard Katsande as a linkman, to provide cover for the defence, and alow the likes of Denver Mukamba to operate from central midfield in a more advanced form. We understand if you decide not to give Nyandoro another chance. But remember, when he featured in the failed AFCON 2013 campaign, the player was forced to play in central defence. He is, as he is demonstrating now, a good holding midfielder.

Lets talk briefly about strike force Mr. Pagels. I agree with you coach, that Knowledge Musona, Simba Sithole, Matthew Rusike and Roderick Mutuma are the future of the Warriors in attack. If any of these players are active, there surely is no need to look outside these youngsters for strikers.

You seem however to to be missing something Mr. Coach when it comes to choosing strikers for the national team. The choice is based on players' match fitness and current form should not necessarily be ignored, even though match fitness should have priority where a coach seeks to build a team.

Musona, as you know, is currently frozen out of Augsburg first eleven for disciplinary reasons, and has not been competing at the highest level. He is clearly the best striker we have, but he is not playing at the moment. Is it fair to overlook player who are playing regularly, scoring goals for their respective teams and boast match fitness which Musona does not have? What about Takesure Chinyama who is banging in goals at Orlando Pirates in friendlies, the league and the CAF Champions League?

Cuthbert Malajila has been scoring goals for fun at Maritzburg and is among top goal scorers in South Africa, where Mutuma has not yet made the first eleven at Celtic because of work permit challenges. It may make sense to call Terrence Mandaza into the squad ahead of a player like Mutuma who, despite his ability, lacks match fitness.

Coach, throwing players into the deep end, and exposing them to a hammering kills their spirit and confidence in themselves, and they may struggle to recover. We urge you to think carefully of what you mean by developing young players. Your poor strategy may defeat the good intentions that you have.

The Warriors project has nothing to do with your personal pride, or what applies in Europe. You have to adapt your standards and preferences to what works in Africa. This may sound arrogant, but it is true coach. This is Africa, and in particular, this is a Zimbabwe national soccer team with ZIFA in charge. You do not have the luxury of Bafana Bafana who can get all the friendly matches they require against whoever.

Taking an untried bunch of young turks to the slaughter house called Egypt is certainly not the best way to develop a future Warriors' squad. The team you have selected, may be humiliated in Alexandria, not because the players are not good enough, but because the timing of fielding them was wrong, and the team balance is incorrect!

I am sure you do not want to be humiliated as a coach. Neither do we want our national team to be humiliated Mr. Pagels. We have the right players who can blend well with the youth to produce a balanced squad. THE WARRIORS SQUAD FOR EGYPT IN ITS CURRENT FORM LACKS BALANCE AND THAT SITUATION IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.

Don't say we did not warn you Mr.Pagels. We love our Zimbabwe Warriors, as much as you love success with the team. Forewarned, is forearmed.




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