Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter—
Zimbabwe . . 0
Zambia . . . . 0
EXACTLY five years after barking instructions from the Warriors dug out, Norman Mapeza found himself in familiar role yesterday when the locally assembled national team played out a goalless draw with Zambia in an international friendly at the National Sports Stadium.
It was a hastily arranged side and the gaffer had to resort to the devils he know rather than the angels he doesn’t, sticking to players from his club FC Platinum and the ones who participated in the African Safari with CAPS United and Ngezi Platinum.
Although yesterday’s result was significant in that it has a bearing on the FIFA rankings, what was more significant was the presence of former Warriors skipper Mapeza on the technical bench.
Interestingly, Mapeza’s last romance with the national team ended in March 2012 and that love affair again appears to have resumed again in the month of March.
In 2012, the coach’s “last supper” had Mali and Liberia in that doomed 2012 African Cup of Nations campaign.
And in June this year, the Warriors will start the road to Cameroon 2019, with a qualifier against Liberia. Mapeza in his last campaign picked up four points against the Lone Star — a draw away and a victory at home.
This year the Warriors will only play one qualifying match and then take a hiatus before they resume next year with clashes against the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville.
As Mapeza opened up on his once-off match yesterday after he was given a mandate by ZIFA with his club’s permission, as the mother-body put their house in order, there was a feeling that this might be a start of a new marriage.
Mapeza in a simple message said he has “let bygones be bygones”. He doesn’t harbour any grudges despite being owed some money by the association.
“It’s for the national cause. There is nothing I could do, it could be Chitembwe (Lloyd) or Chidzambwa tomorrow, so it’s a national cause that’s why I am here.
“It is for the country. For me to be here today, it is because of these people (the local soccer fans), that’s why I am here. If I was someone who was mad at ZIFA, I could have gone and took everything at ZIFA Village, but I knew one day I would come back and sit on the technical bench.
“Why should I do that? I am a Zimbabwean, everybody makes mistakes, but we need to move on in life, maybe tomorrow I will be back to my club and they will look for another coach, I won’t have any hard feelings.
“For now I can’t make a decision, I am employed by FC Platinum, they are the ones who can make a decision, I cannot make a decision. I have got a job there, I am there every day, but this is not an everyday job (at the Warriors), I am here maybe once in six months,” he said.
The coach said the draw was a fair result.
“I think it was a good game of football despite the fact that we just met some few days ago. The credit goes to the boys. I think they worked so hard considering the fact that we are just in pre-season and I could tell, maybe in the last 15 minutes, that some of the guys had collapsed, but they kept pushing. I think the draw, to some extent, was a fair result.
“We played good football, I think we did that. I know we had some challenges in terms of our attack, but I think Prince Dube did well. He is still young, full of energy and I think he needs to be given time. He is a very good player for the country and for the future,” Mapeza said.
The FC Platinum coach said the absence of the foreign duo of Tendai Ndoro and Evans Rusike affected his game-plan.
“That was the biggest setback. I wanted those two guys because of the experience, everybody could tell we were a little bit struggling in terms of going forward that’s why I wanted those two guys to be here,” he said.
The match was off colour with little chances being created especially in the first period where Zambia’s real attempt at goal came in the 26th minute when defender Fackson Kapumbu’s free-kick was tipped over the bar by the Warriors goalminder Edmore Sibanda.
The CAPS United goalie, who is also good at set-pieces, saw his free-kick going over the bar in the 40th minute. He immediately denied the neighbours when he saved a direct shot from midfielder John Chingandu.
CAPS United midfielder Ronald Chitiyo was also unfortunate when his 82nd minute attempt following a good move on the right where his beautiful shot was parried out of danger by Zambian veteran ‘keeper Kennedy Mweene.
And the Warriors survived a late onslaught from the visitors who piled pressure in the closing minutes with defender Dennis Dauda coming to the rescue in the 89th minute clearing from the line after Sibanda was beaten by Chipolopolo striker Jackson Mwanza, who shot into the empty net.
Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda said his team played better.
Zimbabwe gave us a very good game, played organised football. We created many chances, we were on tip top form. We are preparing our teams for the AFCON qualifiers and CHAN
“We came with a CHAN team featuring local players except the captain. Most of the players were earning their first appearances.”
Zimbabwe: E. Sibanda, Q. Amin, P. Jaure, D. Dauda, G. Murwira, L. Chakoroma (S. Ndlovu 81st minute), W. Mhango (D. Chafa 49th minute), R. Chinyengetere (R. Manuvire 65th minute), T. Dzukamanja (M. Mambare 84th minute), R. Chitiyo, P. Dube (P. Muduwa 90th minute).
Zambia: K Mweene, T. Bwembya, F. Kapumbo, T. Ziyo, B. Mutale, R. Mtonga, J. Chingandu, F. Tembo (M. Mubanga 55th minute), A. Mulenga, R. Kampamba.