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Date: 14 December 2018

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Solving Warriors Achilles tendon

[Posted 22 Oct 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Terrence Mandaza deserves a chance in the Warriors team

Zimbabwe has an abundance of soccer talent, and hence the 'near-men' tag which haunted the Warriors in world media circles before the Warriors broke their duck by qualifying for their first African Cup of Nations finals in 2004.

In the past two matches the country played in the AFCON 2012 qualifiers, certain areas have been of concern in the Warriors team. While overrally the team has not really hit top gear yet, the midfield and strikeforce stand out as areas needing immediate attention.

Challenges in the midfield and strikeforce areas have given rise to calls to try out other players who can help resolve our deficiencies in the Warriors team.

The Warriors' major deficiency at the moment is creating clear-cut opportunities for the strikers. It is surprising that coach after coach in the Warriors has resorted to playing with two defensive players, without a more creative midfielder.

Is it true that Zimbabwe lacks creative central midfielders? Are we that hopeless in that role that we always have to play with Esrom Nyandoro and Tinashe Nengomasha or Nyandoro and Justice Majabvi?

Surely that cannot be true. We have players who can be developed to fill that role, to make things happen in midfield. Lets look at the best options available.

Ashley Rambanepasi    The Dynamos midfield general is a very talented central midfielder who need to be given a chance to show what he can offer to the Warriors in the creative central midfield role. Rambanepasi combines good vision, hard work and a kneck for scoring crucial goals when the chips are down. The player could have taken his career to dizzy heights if he had not made an ill-advised decision to remain in England  when other players returned to Zimbabwe after a poorly arranged CAPS/Highlanders friendly match played at Odsal Stadium owned by Bradford Rudgy team of England in September 2005. 

Ramson Zhuwawo The Amazulu FC player was not voted Zimbabwe's player of the year last season for no good reason. He is Zimbabwe's most underrated player. After failing to live up to his great promise during his early days at Dynamos, Zhuwawo's career was resurrected at Gunners FC where he played major roles in the team's championship winning campaign in the league and the Champions League. Zhuwawo does well when joining strikeforce foward. His ball distribution has improved in the last few years, and he had now added a little grit to his play. He is a good option in the creative central midfield role. Zhuwawo's major challenge is that his work permit took long to be processed, and Amazulu have not been able to exract much value from his versatility, which is a great asset to Usuthu, the Zulu Royals.

Willard Katsande The Ajax Cape Town player showed his true colours in the Gunners colours in the local league and the Champions league this year. One can say that Katsande is almost a complete player. He has great ball control, good vision and attacks well. He scores crucial goals from time to time. When you need Willard to fall back and play some defensive role, he is equally at home. He is the kind of player a coach can dream of in a team, whether you are playing at home or away. His reading of the game is great and can adapt to the needs of the match. Katsande is a Michael Essien type of player, a very versatile midfield player. He will prove to be a great asset to the Warriors' 2014 World Cup campain, and even the current afcon campaign, if he gets a chance. What is hampering the development of this great talent is the delay in the processing of his work permit. He has reportedly done very well so far with the reserves and in the friendly matches he has played for Ajax.

Strikeforce

Zimbabwe has also been challenged by the lack of natural goal scorers in the starting eleven. It is surprising though, that the Warriors have in their ranks a natural goal scorer, yet the player has had to endure long spells on the bench. 

Strikeforce combinations have been hailed as a key to scoring goals world-wide. Zimbabwe has used two combinations in the past two matches. Knowledge Musona was partnered by Edward Sadomba in Liberia.

Musona had Benjani for a striking partner against Cape Verde. It is difficult to argue that the Benjani/Musona combination failed against Cape Verde because they never received good support from midfield.

There are reasons however to believe that both combinations preferred by coaches in Zim's last two matches have problems.

Musona is a brilliant goal scorer, but not a prolific goal getter. Sadomba is a good player, but can best function as a winger who attacks from the right or can play as a supporting striker. Benjani does not have a great record for scoring many goals. He is a great lone striker who works hard for the team, and creates chances for other players.

Which strikers should the Warriors coach give a chance to in the future?

Two strikers come to mind.

Terrence Mandaza Terror was playing in Botswana last year, and for two seasons, he scored 18 goals and 43 goals  in the 2009 and 2010 seasons respectively. He has already shown South Africa what he is capable of doing through his performances in the last two matches he has featured for his new club Platinum Stars. He has already scored a goal, and has demonstrated his goal scoring instincts. He is a natural goal scorer, and certainly deserves a chance to prove what he can offer to the Warriors. Mandaza possess skill, a good ball control, good vision to pick up team mates, and ofcourse an eye for goal. His body build and height is well-suited for a stiker, and is not easily possesed when moving with the ball. He has already proved to be a handful to defenders in the SA PSL. 

Nyasha Mushekwi The Mamelodi Sundowns player has caught the eye of the Sandawana fans through his team work. In his his first match, he proved that he remains a hungry striker and has an eye for goal. In the next matches, Mushekwi has demonstrated another side to his type of play. He is a great team player, and twice he has created opportunities for his fellow super-substitute at Downs Mabhuti Khenyeza. Coaches needed the courage to to begin with Mushekwi in the main striking role and either push Benjani to the right wing or even keep him on the bench against Cape Verde. Nyasha was the only natural striker in the Warriors team on 10 October, and he should have been a clear favourite to start when playing at home. Respected multi-champion winning coach Rahman Gumbo has added his voice to the calls to include Mandaza in the Warriors team.

Can you imagine a strikeforce which features Mandaza and Mushekwi, with Musona attacking from either left or right?

There is no way that our coahces can work out good and effective combinations if they do not experiment in friendly matches. When playing at home, there is need to try out wing midfielders and strikers who are hungry to get into the box.

Coaches should experiment with the wing midfield of Sadomba (on the right) and Musona (on the left), with Mushekwi and Mandaza the preferred twin strikers. This could be a perfect attacking combination when playing at home.

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