CHAOS characterised the Warriors’ first training session yesterday ahead of their African Nations Championship (Chan) first round second leg qualifier against Mauritius at Rufaro Stadium this Sunday.
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA
The team, however, had their afternoon session at the match venue with newly appointed assistant coach Mkhuphali Masuku also in attendance. Masuku, who is likely to be appointed Under-23 coach to replace Peter Ndlovu, joins Kalisto Pasuwa and Jairos Tapera on the Warriors technical bench.
The team failed to conduct a training session which was scheduled for the National Sports Stadium at 10am because Zifa had not booked the facility.
More embarrassingly, there was no training kit for the 13 players who had arrived at the venue on time.
Warriors coach Ian Gorowa then suggested that the team should go and have the session at Prince Edward High School (PE), but it appeared that the message did not reach all the team members.
Most of the players, including Pasuwa, had got the message that the morning training session had been cancelled and the team would meet at the match venue for the afternoon training session.
So only five players — Milton Ncube, Dominic Chungwa, Eric Chipeta, Nelson Mazivisa and Blessing Chimwamuchere — boarded the team bus to PE while the rest of the players got into their cars and drove away. When Gorowa and stand-in team manager Patrick Mutesva, who were using the same car, arrived at PE, they only found those few players who had used the team bus. Fortunately for Gorowa, kit manager Joshua Khumalo had arrived with the kit.
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Mutesva had to phone the other players to report for training, with most arriving at around 11am, while Pasuwa who had already gone for Dynamos training session, arrived around midday.
Peter “Rio” Moyo, who had travelled from Bulawayo, arrived moments later and the last to arrive at the venue was Silas Songani with only some 30 minutes remaining before the two-hour-thirty-minutes-long training session ended.
The Harare City midfielder could be seen exchanging harsh words with Mutesva, who was visibly angry with the winger’s conduct. Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela explained the National Sports Stadium boob.
“It was just a communication breakdown because we never booked the National Sports Stadium. We booked Rufaro for all the team’s training sessions for this match, but the team manager thought it was the National Sports, as has been the tradition,” Gwesela said.
Leading striker Tendai Ndoro was not part of the morning training session, but was expected to arrive last night together with Charles Sibanda, Felix Chindungwe and Simba Sithole, while left-back Augustine Mbara was excused due to a family bereavement. But in all the chaos, Gorowa remained upbeat.
“I don’t want to look at the negatives. I always want to look at the positives. There was a problem with a booking of the stadium, but as long as we managed to train this morning I’m happy,” Gorowa said.
The former Black Rhinos and Dynamos striker would be facing the Warriors home fans for the first time on Sunday since assuming the reins last month and he is looking forward to the meeting.
“It’s good and a great honour to coach the Warriors and I’m happy to be in charge of the team. I’m looking forward to enter Rufaro Stadium, which I know very well as a player, but I have never been there as a coach. I have a good feeling about it actually,” Gorowa said.
The Warriors carry a healthy lead into the tie after their 3-0 romping in the first leg, but Gorowa remains cautious.
“Mauritius gave us problems, especially in the second half and I think our goalkeeper Tafadzwa (Dube) was on top of his game. I have spoken to the guys and I have told them they have to guard against complacency. We beat them 3-nil in their home ground, but our players should not think that they are coming here for a formality. We are playing against a team that has nothing to lose and they will throw everybody up so they will be very dangerous. We have to be professional and play to the best of our ability.”
The Warriors are likely to face Zambia in the next round of qualifier with Chipolopolo poised to advance to the next round after getting a 1-1 draw in Botswana in the first round first leg.