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Mapuranga’s birthday present

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At the ripe age of 33, Highlanders defender and captain Innocent Mapuranga received the perfect birthday present when he was called up to the Warriors squad that will face Zambia in an international friendly next week.

The steely defender, one of the major mainstays of Highlanders’ 15-match unbeaten run in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, turned 33 on July 27.

The friendly match takes place at the new Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Wednesday.
Blessed with vision and good positioning, endurance, excellent recovery time after losing possession and a good shot when on the attack, Mapuranga certainly deserves the call up.

Named player of the year at Highlanders last season, Mapuranga who is married to Lilian and is a member of Zaoga FIF, has seen it all in the game of football, having turned for one of the finest clubs in Bulawayo, Railstars.

It has not been an easy road as talent in Zimbabwe is only recognised when one plays for Dynamos, Highlanders, Caps United and now FC Platinum.

Social football life started the journey for Mapuranga at Amershem Tigers Mvurwi, where he was born. Mvurwi United was his next port of call before he moved to Chegutu’s Lulu Rovers.

He then found his way to Bulawayo where he starred alongside Zambians Chewe Mulenga and Charles Chilufya before taking a trip to Harare to join that failed project called Caps FC.

Returning home in 2008, he joined Bantu Rovers, who had just bought the franchise of Mutare side Highway, but found no joy. He met the same fate at the now defunct Njube Sundowns and decided to quit.

He went into women football coaching at Marange Resources Women Football League side Inline Academy.

But former Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu will have none of that and recalled the player to Bosso during his brief stint. Little was Ndlovu to know that two years down the line, Mapuranga would be the rock upon which Highlanders’ title aspirations were to be built.

And come 2012, Highlanders is sitting at the top of the standings and Mapuranga is the proud captain.

To cap it all, he has received his first senior national team call up and, who knows, he might get that first cap next Wednesday.

He has been called up together with leftback Bruce Kangwa, who is only getting his second call after being invited by former coach Sunday Chidzambwa.

Enterprising midfielder Peter Rio Moyo, who has dazzled many a fan, in his debut season in the Premiership, has also been called up.

FC Platinum goalkeeper Francis Tizayi, new Caps United defender Blessing Zabula, Buffaloes’ Prosper Matizanadzo and Chicken Inn’s Danny Phiri are part of the team.

There are two foreign-based players: Arnold Chaka of Botswana champions Mochudi Centre Chiefs and BMC’s Mandlaenkosi Sibanda.

The team is expected to assemble in Harare on Monday before departure 24 hours later on a direct flight to Lusaka. They will then continue by road and return home on Friday.

Squad
Goalkeepers:
A Sibanda, M Jani, G Chigova, F Tizayi
Defenders: P Bernard, G Moyo, P Jaure, A Chaka, K Banda, B Zabula, B Kangwa, I Mapuranga,
Midfielders: B Mapfumo, D Mukamba, D Phiri, R Chitiyo, P Moyo, M Sibanda, P Matizanadzo
Strikers: N Mazivisa, R Chinyengetere, R Kutsanzira, C Sibanda, F Zvikumbawire

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