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Date: 23 September 2017

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Who should Mapeza call for Bafana friendly?

[Posted 03 Nov 2011]
[By Beezsports Editor]
Time for Zhuwawo to return to the Warriors squad?

On Tuesday 15 November, Zimbabwe Warriors have a perfect opportunity to kick-start preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and Brazil 2014 World Cup when they take on South Africa in a friendly match. Who will Mapeza call as he attempts to rebuild after the disappointing exit from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations?

The logical first step for both Zifa and the technical team led by Mapeza is to do a post-mortem of the failed campaign, and confirm what they already know led to the failure, and plot the way forward. An honest appraisal of the challenges and not only challenges but human errors on the part of Zifa and Mapeza should be done.

Beezsports understands that Zifa have asked Mapeza to analyse the entire campaign and point out at the challenges which led to the failed campaign. While that is a welcome development, Zifa should not fool themselves and think that the failure to qualify was all Mapeza's fault.

It is an open secret that Zifa's infighting over the appointment of the coach last year and poor planning for the final match against Cape Verde is the real cause for the team's dropping of points at home in a match against Cape Verde in Harare in October 2010, and the 2-1 loss in Praia on October 8. 

Enough about that, now to the friendly match organised by Zifa.  

Mapeza has not yet announced his squad to face South Africa, and it is hoped that he is considering giving chances to some players who really deserve a call to the national team, and have skills  which can help plug the holes in the current team.

Below, Beezsports seeks to identify gaps in each and every department of the Warriors and propose players who can make a difference if called up by Mapeza.

Goalkeeping department

The Warriors have Tapiwa Kapini of Amazulu in South Africa and Dynamos' Washington Arubi as two main keepers. The latter has played some few matches while the former has played in most of the matches in the last campaign. There may not be any need for many additions in the team, except to say that Edmore Sibanda of CAPS United remains a strong contender. FC Platinum's Tafadzwa Dube is also a good option. Another piece of good news for Zimbabwe in this department is that Energy Murambadoro has been playing regularly for Wits in South Africa, and can easily make it back into the national team.

Defence

The defence conceded five goals in six matches, almost an everage of a goal per match. That is not a very healthy record considering the fact that Zimbabwe thrives on a tight midfield and a punishing defence. The Thomas Sweswe/ Method Mwanjali combination in central defence appeared a bit suspect in some matches, but played fairly well in others.  

There appears to be need for a new combination in central defence. Mwanjali is a very good ball player, probably one of the best in the squad, but central defence does not appear like his best position in the national team. Evidence of this is the manner in which he single-handedly contributed to the two goals scored by Cape Verde in a crucial match on October 8. Mapeza should consider moving the captain to the right side of the defence, which appears to be a problem area for the Warriors at the moment. Gilbert Mapemba can not be expected to continue holding down that position in the national team when he is even struggling to pin down a starting place at Moroka Swallows.

In Central defence, Zimbabwe has two very good players who should be given a chance to stake a claim in that department. Amazulu of South Africa's big defender Carlington Nyadombo's name has often come up, and rightly so because he has been enjoying great form in the heart of the high-riding KwaZulu Natal side. He has managed to shut out dangerous players in the ABSA premiership such as Bafana Bafana's Katlego Mphela, Khama Billiat and Terror Fanteni of Ajax Cape Town, then Katlego Mashego and Collins Mbesuma of Golden Arrowns only two days ago in a league match. Nyadombo is a player with a big heart and the right temperament for big matches.

Another option in the heart of the Warriors defence is a player who is not new to the national team set-up. Daniel Veremu demonstrated in the absence of Sweswe that he is ready for the big occasion, and him and Mwanjali kept a clean sheet against Liberia in September. Mapeza has an option to audition either a Sweswe/Nyadombo combination, a Sweswe/Veremu one or even completely new combination involving the two big men, Veremu/Nyadombo combination against South Africa on 15 November.

The left back position in the Warriors squad appears to be quite settled, and Vusa Nyoni has done a great job on the left channel of defence. There is absolutely no reason why Mapeza should rush Onsimor Bhasera to the national team, given the fact that he has just returned from a long injury lay-off. Besides, Bhasera is playing in a weak league to be prefrred over players like Zhaimu Jmabo who has really returned to good form at Chiefs.

The right back side in the Warriors has been shaky, and switching Mwanjali to that position could serve Zimbabwe well in more ways than one. Mwanjali is able to attack, pass the ball and track back quickly to defend. He also has a kneck for scoring great goals from that position. Noel Kaseke is another option for the right back position, and the Omonia Nicosia man is versatile and can also be employed in midfield as an anchor-man. During his days at Highlanders,Kaseke at times played in central defence. Mapeza has to recall the player to the squad, with a defence role in mind. Other defenders itching for a starting place in the squad include Lincoln Zvasiya of Kaizer Chiefs and Tapiwa Khumbuyani of CAPS.

Midifield department

No doubt, Zimbabwe is blessed with holding midfielders. The national team currently has midfield general Tinashe Nengomasha, who appears to struggle with the system employed by Mapeza in the Warriors squad, but remains a very good squad player. Questions will be asked about The General's Kaizer Chiefs team mate Willard Katsande who has not had enough game time at club level to warrant any continued call to the national team.

Mapeza should give a call to Ramson Zhuwawo who is playing the game of his life at Amazulu. Zhuwawo has the ability to attack and defend, and pairing him with Nengomasha and Ovidy Karuru in central midfield  will help create scoring opportunities for the strikers.

Strikers

With Knowledge Musona, Nyasha Mushekwi, Edward Sadomba and to some extent Simba Sithole, the Warriors team appears spoiled for choice. Musona finished as Golden Boot winner in South Africa last season, Mushekwi finished just a goal behind Musona, while Sadomba is the top goal scorer in the CAF Champions League. Everything points towards a potent strike-force. It is very worrrying that a team with such great strikers on paper struggled to score goals in the AFCON 2012 campaign. Musona emerged the top goal scorer with four goals (scoring more than half of the Zimbabwe's total number of goals in the campaign), while Mushekwi and Sadomba fired blanks in the matches they played.

While a case can be made to give FC Vaslui's Temwanjira a chance to add his physical presence and scoring ability to the team, does Zimbabwe have any better strikers than Musona, Mushekwi, Sadomba and Sithole?

Not an easy question to answer. The four above are good strikers by Zimbabwean and African standards and they have demonstrated their ability to score goals in the Zimbabwe league, the 12th best on the continent, in South Africa's ABSA premiership and in Africa's premier club competition, the Champions League. 

So, what could have gone wrong with the Warriors strikers during the last campaign?

There is no easy answer to this question. Yet, the reason could range from the system employed by the coach, which does not allow the team to pour forward in attack and create opportunities for strikers, to the lack of creativity from our midfielders.

Apart from Ovidy Karuru, none of our midfielders demonstrated that they could unlock opposition defences. Karuru on his part, demonstrated that he had the ability to do that in the matches against Mali and Liberia at home. Young Khama Billiat has great potential, but appears to still need more time to adjust to the rigours of international matches. Billiat has great pace and skill, but his small frame and inexperience can see him struggle against imposing players like the Malian stars of Mamadou Diarra's frame.  

Such friendly matches like the one to come in mid-November should afford Mapeza and his technical team, a chance to try other more offensive formations such as the 3-5-2 formation or even the 4-4-1-1 formation. Zimbabwe has the right kind of players to succeed in these formations than the traditional 4-4-2 which failed to create opportunities for strikers.

For example, with the 3-5-2 formation, Zimbabwe can therefore afford to play with Nyadombo, Veremu and Sweswe in the heart of defence, while employing Mwanjali and Nyoni on the flanks and use their ability to hold the ball, move with the ball and whip in crosses. Nengomasha and Zhuwawo could mann the engine room of the midfield, while Ovidy Karuru occupies the creative and play-making role. Such a formation could allow Mushekwi and Musona to do what they are naturally gifted to do, scoring goals.

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