BY FORTUNE MBELE
WARRIORS assistant coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu and goalkeepers’ coach Energy Murambadoro have paid tribute to head coach Norman Mapeza for picking him as one of his lieutenants in the senior men’s national team as they look forward to breathing new life into the team’s Qatar 2022 World Cup campaign.
Mapeza was appointed national team coach on a short-term contract ahead of Group G qualifiers against Ghana (home and away), Ethiopia (home) and South Africa (away).
The former Warriors skipper picked Triangle mentor Taurai Mangwiro, Mpofu and Murambadoro as his assistants.
He replaced Croatian Zdravko Logarušić, who was sacked after presiding over a string of poor results.
Logarušić was sacked together with his assistants Tonderai Ndiraya, Lloyd Chitembwe and Benjani Mwaruwari.
Mapeza and Mpofu collaborated in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier where Zimbabwe beat Liberia 3-0 at home.
At the time, Mapeza was also attached to FC Platinum and had replaced Kalisto Pasuwa.
Mpofu is pleased with the reunion and is optimistic that their combination, together with Mangwiro could bring success.
“It’s good to be reunited with Mapeza once again and work for the country. I have done this before; I have been in national team coaching structures since 2010. At one time, I was appointed assistant coach to Mangwiro in the Under-20 Young Warriors and we also reunite in the senior national team as assistants,” Mpofu said.
“I would like to thank Mapeza for acknowledging me to come and help the situation at the Warriors. I hope we work hard in our relationship to get positive results. Obviously, it is all eyes on us and there is still a chance for the Warriors to qualify for the World Cup. It’s pressure mounting, but of course I am happy and once again would like to thank Norman and Zifa for again giving me another chance with the senior national team.”
He is certain that the Warriors’ job will not adversely affect Highlanders, with the Castle Lager Premier League set to resume at the end of next month.
“World Cup games are on the Fifa calendar and when these games are played all other local games will be suspended. I don’t see any interruption with my job at Highlanders coming in and I think that is why Mapeza jumped into the ship. I think the system is well structured and our commitment to the national team will not disturb us at our respective clubs,” Mpofu said.
Murambadoro said the Warriors job is his biggest so far.
“It’s a great honour and am very humbled. It is the biggest job in the country. Big thanks to coach Mapeza for trusting me to be in his technical team. In terms of qualifying, what I can say is anything is possible in football. I have been there as a player and I have been in many battles as a player and hope to impart my experience to this generation of Warriors,” Murambadoro said.
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