The Sunday Mail
NORMAN MAPEZA regards Biggie Zuze as a fine gentleman whose knowledge of the beautiful game is highly underestimated.
Speaking ahead of today’s clash between his FC Platinum outfit and Dynamos, the championship winning Mapeza backed Zuze to succeed at DeMbare.
“I have known Biggie (Zuze) for quite some time now, what a gentleman,” remarked Mapeza.
“Zuze is someone who knows that club inside out, being a Dynamos son himself, so I am sure he is ready for all the challenges that come with coaching a big institution like DeMbare. I wish him well this season.”
Mapeza takes charge of his fifth game after recovering from a back surgery that kept him away from his job for the first seven weeks of the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League race.
He came back to work a few days after FC Platinum’s shock 0-2 defeat at debutants Bulawayo Chiefs on April 21 and has since guided the miners to three wins against Mutare City (1-0), Black Rhinos (1-0), Herentals (2-1) and a 0-0 draw against Triangle last weekend.
“It feels great to be back doing what I love most,” Mapeza said.
FC Platinum have lost only once in the league since August 2017, they have not lost to Dynamos in a league match since May 2015 and they enjoy a 14-point gap over DeMbare in the 2018 race.
However, Mapeza, who guided FC Platinum to their first league title last season, feels today’s clash against DeMbare could be a different test.
“After the technical changes at Dynamos, you get the feeling that Biggie (Zuze) wants to prove a point and the players as well. It’s going to be very difficult,” he said.
“Games against Dynamos are always difficult, whether we are playing at home or away. Psychologically, you need to be at your best to win such kind of matches. We need to play to the best of our abilities for us to get a positive result.
“Yes we might have been bosses in our previous meetings against Dynamos but history is history, it belongs to the past. This is a totally new game and we need to apply ourselves.”
The two-time championship winning coach predicts a tough 2018 race and believes apart from log leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars, 2015 champions Chicken Inn could also pose a serious threat.
“Chicken Inn, they have a coach (Joey Antipas) who has seen it all and they know how to win a championship. Then we have the Big Three, that is Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United, they are always in the mix. You can never rule out the big boys from the equation,” he said.
FC Platinum have tricky fixtures over the next few weeks.
After DeMbare, they host a stubborn Nichrut that has so far punched way above its weight before they travel to Chicken Inn.
FC Platinum then engage fierce rivals Shabanie Mine in the famous and often explosive Zvishavane Derby before clashing with Ngezi Platinum Stars at the Baobab.