BY HENRY MHARA
DYNAMOS coach Tonderai Ndiraya believes that FC Platinum will not be able to sustain their title defence without Norman Mapeza, who left the club yesterday.
The champions announced yesterday that they had parted ways with the mentor who delivered two league titles.
No reason was given for the parties’ sudden divorce, although Mapeza had in recent weeks been complaining that things were not well at the club.
Mapeza left the team top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League log.
Ndiraya, who has worked with Mapeza in the senior national men’s football team, says his former boss’ departure was a huge loss to the league.
“I don’t know the reasons why he has left, but it’s sad for Norman to take a sabbatical at this stage of the season. One would think probably he was going to leave at the end of the season. Our league will not be the same without Norman, quite honestly,” Ndiraya said.
“I had some interesting duels with him in the past and a lot of people have really enjoyed watching FC Platinum, so he will be missed in the league. In terms of competition he has been doing well and he has won the championship with that team in the past two years and that speaks volumes about his knowledge of football and I hope the club management will manage his exit well and avoid the team disintegrating into an ordinary team.”
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Assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe, who will hold fort until FC Platinum appoint a substantive coach, has struggled on occasions when Mapeza was away on sick leave.
Ndiraya does not doubt Sweswe’s capabilities, but says things at the club will not be the same without Mapeza.
“He (Mapeza) was with that system for quite a long time and so we wait to see how the team is going to cope without him there. That’s where the big question is. How is the new guy coming in going to cope with all that pressure? Are they going to play the same way Norman wanted the team to play? So it’s that transition which is going to determine how the team is going to progress.”
He added that Mapeza’s departure could affect the team’s title challenge.
“His departure will affect them and it will be very difficult for them to sustain their title defence. But if managed well, there is no reason why they shouldn’t compete up to the end of the season.”
Ndiraya, whose team are sixth on the log, but just six points behind the log leaders, will be hoping to take advantage of FC Platinum’s inactivity in the league to close the gap when his team travels to second-placed ZPC Kariba tomorrow.
Despite there being just a six point gap between his team and the top, Ndiraya insists DeMbare are out of the title race.
Dynamos’ campaign has also been affected by injuries to key players, and the Harare giants will this weekend travel to Kariba without some first team stars.
Strikers Simba Nhivi, Tawanda Macheke and captain Edward Sadomba are still out as is midfielder Robert Sackey.
Sadomba, Macheke and Sackey started light training this week, but Nhivi is still down.