17 Apr, 2024 - 08:04 0 Views

The Sunday News

Harare Bureau 

FORMER Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza says he conducted himself in the manner he felt was in the best interests of the national team when he took charge of the Warriors during their Four Nations tournament in Malawi last month.

Mapeza has been accused of poor player management and “military” training routines during the Malawi tourney.

He was the interim coach at the tourney, which also featured Zambia and Kenya with the teams using it as part of their preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

But the FC Platinum coach yesterday dominated local football discourse following accusations attributed to Itay-based wing-back Jordan Zemura.

Zemura threatened to withdraw from future Warriors duty as long as Mapeza “does not change his treatment of England-born players and his player management style’’.

The allegations were made by a source within Zemura’s camp.

Mapeza yesterday reacted with surprise over the accusations.

He feels that Zemura may have been incensed by being given limited game time at the tournament.

“Maybe the problem was that he didn’t play as much as he would have liked,” said Mapeza.

“I told him Jordan you have changed a little bit in terms of your attitude. Last year you were pushing, you wanted to play, what is going on?’

“That’s what I asked him and he said no coach I am fine but I will sort it out. That’s what I spoke to him about. I am a coach and I can see when a player is having challenges.”

Mapeza also explained the reason behind substituting the player against Zambia and the decision to leave him out of the final against Kenya.

“I had seen him and I wanted someone who is more like a midfielder. The formation we were playing didn’t have natural wingers.

“He plays left back most of the time, like the other game that I saw him playing against Inter-Milan.

“I talk to everybody. I told him I want you to play here and he said it’s okay coach. Then I substituted him. So does he mean he didn’t want to be substituted? Is he now a Maradona?

“That’s the problem at the end of the day. To be honest with you, I respect football players but I believe football is all about teamwork.

“It’s not about an individual. It’s not about Zemura, Marshall Munetsi, or Knowledge Musona. It’s about collective effort. That he did not play the second game was more tactical than anything else,” argued Mapeza.

Zemura also blamed the coach’s training methods for being too physical leaving players with no recovery plan for the next match-day. Mapeza, however, defended his methods.

“How are my training methods military style when I have only been with these guys a few days?

“Zemura and the other foreign-based guys arrived on a Tuesday night and we trained once on Wednesday in the morning.

“Then in the afternoon, everyone went to watch the Zimbabwe Under-20 match against Malawi Under-20. We trained twice on Thursday and once on Friday.

“On Saturday we played against Zambia. That was that, you can ask captain Marshall Munetsi and any other player who was there. So, was that military training?

“Since we were going to have a game on Friday, we had tactical drills to demonstrate how we were going to play.

“Afterwards, we did video analyses of the previous games; we made corrections and that’s what we were doing. There wasn’t much, I think, and someone claims military training?’’ Mapeza said.

He insisted that players needed to follow the national coach’s training methods when in the Warriors camp.

“Maybe these guys have their certain way of doing things at their clubs. But I can’t follow the programme of his coach in Italy.

“This is a national team and we have only two to three days and I do what I feel is going to be good for these guys. Why only he and all the other players have not complained?

“You can ask any player; we just did the normal training sessions.

“We gave them off the other day. I have my programme as a coach the other day we were invited to a tree-planting day and I asked them that we have breakfast at 7am since the tree-planting programme was at 9am.

They should understand because we had a programme given to us by the tournament organisers.” Zemura’s handlers claim there was a deliberate ploy by the coach to frustrate the European-born players as evidenced by their lack of game time.

Tawanda Maswanhise of Leicester City, Sheffield Wednesday’s Joey Phuthi, Tivonge Rushesha, Shane Maroodza, and goalkeeper Marley Tavaziva of Brentford were some of the players who did not see much action in Malawi.

“I did my assessments and saw that some of these guys are not ready yet to play for the national team’’.

Mapeza believes the attacks on him are being fronted by people who are fighting to have their preferred candidate installed as Warriors coach.

“They (the players) had come from the UK and some people were not happy they did not play. So, they look for stories.

“They have their agendas which have nothing to do with football.

“At the end of the day, this is Zimbabwean football, it’s not about me. Maybe they have someone they want, who they can tell what to do and who to play. But that does not develop Zimbabwean football.

“I searched for information on all these players that came here. Apart from a few, they play mostly in the Under-21s.

“What I may recommend is that we start them at the Under-23 level and we develop them from there. I tell you we will have a good team in the future.

“But it was like I was the problem. But what’s important is the development of Zimbabwean football more than the attacks on Mapeza or anyone.

“In life, we only plan and God decides. Even if people say we don’t want Mapeza as national team coach, I don’t have a problem with that. Whoever comes after me I will support him because what we want is Zimbabwean football,” said Mapeza.

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