Denver’s Shot At Redemption

UNTIL Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic proposed a practice match between his CHAN provisional squad and Ngezi Platinum Stars three weeks ago, midfielder Denver Mukamba never saw himself making a return into the Warriors fold.

He had been ignored in the initial 34-member provisional team and looked set to miss out on the chance to don the famous country’s golden colours once again.

If anything, Mukamba’s truancy must have contributed significantly to his missing out than his class.

The 2012 Soccer Star of the Year’s quality is beyond any doubt, but Loga’s assistants — Tonderai Ndiraya and Lloyd Chitembwe — must have considered him a liability given his previous misdemeanours.

But, Mukamba impressed the Croat gaffer in that friendly game between his team and the Warriors and he has been too good to ignore in the subsequent practice matches he has played under Loga.

Fittingly, he has made the cut in the final 23-man team which is in camp preparing for the rescheduled CHAN finals which will run between January 16 to February 7 in Cameroon.

The tournament, reserved for only players plying their trade in their respective domestic leagues, was originally pencilled for April 4-25 this year before Covid-19 forced its postponement.

“He is a good player. His quality is top class, only that the players have not been training since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Loga said of Mukamba.

“Zimbabwe has got talent. I can tell you that I have seen very good players in the last couple of weeks when we were holding practice matches against local clubs.

“Well, Mukamba is one of the vastly talented individuals I have in the team, but of course I can’t really say anyone is out of this world given where the players are coming from but I am impressed.”

Yet, Mukamba had taken the pill, however bitter, after he had been snubbed in the original squad.

He knows that decision was somehow justified given his flawed past.

Had it not been for Ngezi Platinum Stars coach, Rodwell Dhlakama, Mukamba would have long hung his boots.

So flawed was his personal behaviour that both Dynamos and CAPS United would not accommodate him in their changing rooms.

Mukamba had grown too infamous as he abused drugs and engaged in several anti-social vices.

He was clubless last year until Dhlakama decided to sit down with him and took him on board at Chapungu in July 2019.

For the six months that followed Mukamba dazzled and scored crucial goals for the Air Force of Zimbabwe team.

But with Dhlakama moving to Ngezi Platinum Stars at a critical juncture, Mukamba’s efforts were in vain as Chapungu failed to survive the chop.

Dhlakama then lured him to Mhondoro early this year.

And it is the much travelled gaffer who Mukamba credits for his turn-around which could see him at the heart of the Warriors when they plunge into CHAN battle.

“I am happy to be part of the national team. I am grateful to the Lord. I believe this is an opportunity for me to relaunch my national team career,” said Mukamba.

“I would like to thank the technical team for their faith in me. I have to repay that with some good performances but I think it’s too early to say anything. I just have to work hard at the moment.

“I would like to thank my club coach Rodwell Dhlakama who out of love came and literally rescued me from street life last year.

“I cannot thank him enough. I just have to play football to the best of my ability. I credit him for everything.”

At the peak of his game, Mukamba was the Warriors skipper under German coach Claus Dieter-Pagels some seven years ago.

He can only hope for the best and possibly relaunch his Warriors career.

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