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Mapeza making no promises

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BY HENRY MHARA

RETURNING FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza (pictured) refused to be drawn into making any promises, but instead chose to be realistic as he confronts the huge task he has taken on at the ambitious Zvishavane club.

The highly-rated and likeable 47-year-old returns to the club he ditched last year to replace Pieter de Jongh who was released last week because he didn’t have requisite papers to coach in the Caf Champions League.

Reports suggest that the former Warriors coach has been tasked with taking the club beyond the group stages of the continent’s premier club competition, something that he and his predecessors have failed to do.

In an interview Mapeza said he was excited about the opportunity to coach the club again, but refused to open up about his targets.

“It feels good to be back,” Mapeza said. “As you are aware I have been here for quite some time so it’s a nice feeling (to be back). It’s good to see everybody here is looking well and is in good health.”

Soon after the announcement of his return Mapeza immediately got down to work with the squad to prepare for the Caf Champions League preliminary round first leg match away to Costa do Sol of Mozambique at the weekend.

The two teams meet in the reverse fixture next week.

When the journalists tried to pin him down to share his goals, Mapeza chose to declare himself ready “to work” and would not commit to any targets.

“It’s always difficult to give yourself targets but I’m here to work, we have to work. We have a massive game over the weekend so preparations start today. We have to prepare for the game. I just can’t wait to work,” he said.

A lot has changed at FC Platinum since Mapeza left to coach South African league side Chippa United.

Star players such as Charles Sibanda, Lameck Nhamo, the Moyo twins Elvis and Kelvin, Never Tigere, Rodwell Chinyengetere and Devon Chafa have left.

Former assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe has also departed. Asked what he thought about the current squad, he responded, “I still have to see what is on the ground. We have to continue from where the guys left. I have to see how the squad is and start working from there. I can’t say much because I haven’t seen much of these guys for quite some time so it’s better to have a look first then talk about the plans and targets for the future.”

He also had a message for the club supporters with whom he had developed a special bond.

“I’m back now, the support that they gave us when I was still here two years back is the same support I will be wishing to get from them. They should know that I always love them. When I left this place it wasn’t easy for me, and I will always appreciate their support.”

The three-time champions FC Platinum were forced to recall Mapeza to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation of playing a Caf Champions League match without a coach after their appeal to have de Jongh to sit on the bench was unsuccessful.

The Dutchman does not possess a Caf A coaching badge as required by the continental governing body for one to coach a team in interclub competitions.

Mapeza resigned from the position of coach in September last year. He had joined in 2014 and led the club to two league titles.

 Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara

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