The Sunday Mail
HE may have presided over three consecutive defeats since taking over temporary charge of the Warriors, but coach Norman Mapeza is scoring high on other key aspects of the game.
The FC Platinum gaffer is gradually introducing young blood into the squad, which he believes will be competitive in the not-so-distant future.
And as he prepares to face-off against Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon in the last group game of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in which he is desperate to post a positive result, Mapeza has been introducing raft of measures to foster team unity.
“Look, we are dealing with players who are coming from different cultures here,” Mapeza said.
“So we have come up with a system where we don’t allow players to carry cellphones to training because they need to interact in the bus.
“Bill Antonio wants to know how Galloway (Brendan) is doing at his club in England.
“But if they are on their cellphones, how are they going to interact and get to know each other.
“That’s one of the ways we are trying to bring in team bonding. It is important for them to know each other.
“I am glad this is working and that is what we want to see in a team. Once we achieve unity, everything starts to fall into place.”
Mapeza is under pressure to deliver victory against Ethiopia as the Warriors battle to redeem some pride from the qualifiers in which they have failed to win in five games.
In fact, the Warriors have scored just once, a penalty converted by injured captain Knowledge Musona in their 1-3 defeat at the hands of Ghana in Cape Coast last month.
They have also kept a single clean sheet in a goalless draw at home to South Africa in the opening group match.
And after the latest setback against Bafana Bafana in which they played well despite losing 0-1, Mapeza has decided to chop and change his squad.
“We need to give other guys a chance and we have been working on combinations for them to get accustomed to what we want them to do.
“Basically, it’s all about combinations. If you want to make changes, say in defence, it’s important for those guys to know how we want them to operate tomorrow (today).
“We have also been working on set-pieces. Basically we are using the same system which we were using against South Africa and I believe when we were explaining, all the players were listening.
“So I don’t think it will be any difficult for those guys who are playing tomorrow (today).”
He said his team will go all out for a win this afternoon.
“I am also very disappointed. We have been playing football and failing to win, you know it’s disappointing.
“When people remind you that you are not winning, you know you start feeling under so much pressure.
“But you know what, we are on a rebuilding phase. It’s not like we are finishing a house which was at window level, we are starting afresh, from the foundation.
“But as much as it’s about picking the positives, as a coach I need that victory and even the players want that win.
“So definitely we need to push for a win tomorrow.”
Devine Lunga sat out training yesterday at the match venue due to an injury and may not play any part this afternoon. He was expected to be assessed by the team’s medical team late yesterday.
From the system Mapeza and his deputies Taurai Mangwiro, Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu and Energy Murambadoro were using yesterday, in-form Dynamos goalkeeper Taimon Mvula could start ahead of Petros Mhari who did well when he kept goal against South Africa on Thursday.
Mvula’s Dynamos teammate, Godknows Murwira might be thrust into the right-back position with Bruce Kangwa and Gerald Takwara retaining their places at left-back and central defence.
Takwara could be twinned with the returning Alec Mudimu who missed the Bafana Bafana clash via suspension.
Kelvin Madzongwe and Thabani Kamusoko are expected to form a two-man defensive shield while Kuda Mahachi and Ishmael Wadi could play on the flanks with stand-in skipper Khama Billiat likely to retain his Number 10 role.
Scotland-based David Moyo, who had a decent outing against South Africa, is again expected to get the goals for Mapeza’s side.
Taimon Mvula, Godknows Murwira, Bruce Kangwa, Gerald Takwara, Alec Mudimu, Kelvin Madzongwe, Thabani Kamusoko, Ishmael Wadi, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Khama Billiat, David Moyo