Ndiraya backs Benjie

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Benjani Mwaruwari

BY HENRY MHARA
DYNAMOS coach Tonderai Ndiraya has tipped Warriors legend Benjani Mwaruwari to succeed as a coach especially after the former Manchester City striker has gone through some of the best mentors.

Mwaruwari sat in the dugout as a coach for the first time last week after he took over the reigns at Ngezi Platinum Stars replacing Rodwell Dhlakama.

This afternoon, the former Zimbabwe captain makes his Baobab debut as his team host Ndiraya’s title-chasing Dynamos.

Mwaruwari was coached by Sven Goran Eriksson and Roberto Mancini at Manchester City having also been mentored by Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth and Steve Bruce at Sunderland.

At national team level, he came through various coaches including Dutch coach Clemence Westerhoff and Charles Mhlauri to mention only two.

Prior to his Ngezi job, Mwaruwari had never coached anywhere, but got his coaching badges in the United Kingdom and had a number of attachments at top European clubs, including at Auxerre in France.

Today he faces his biggest test as his team entertains Dynamos, who are second on the table and are on a good run.

While there has been skepticism over Mwaruwari’s appointment, Ndiraya has no doubt that the former Blackburn forward has been well-mentored.

His first match in charge of the team was a 1-1 draw away to Bulawayo Chiefs last week. Today, he faces perhaps a bigger challenge in only his second game when high-riding Dynamos arrive at Baobab Stadium.

Ahead of what promises to be a thriller, Ndiraya believes the former Warriors gunman has all it takes to excel at Ngezi. He feels the Undertaker is capable of imparting his knowledge of the game to his players.

“Mwaruwari’s appointment is a welcome development,” Ndiraya said.

“He is our legend; he played professional football at the highest level. He has been subjected to all kinds of top coaches when he was playing, so it won’t be too difficult for him because it’s a matter of him transferring what he went through as a player on to the field. Of course, it will be difficult but everything has got a starting point and this is the starting point for Benjie, and what a starting point taking charge of Ngezi. It’s a great challenge because of the expectations and the targets there but I feel that he has got the mental strength and the attitude to get the desired results. Of course, he doesn’t have experience but you get experience through coaching, so he is going to get that coaching at a top level.”

Ngezi are desperate to win the league title, but Ndiraya has urged his former club to be patient with their new coach.

“He is new in this coaching business and is taking over from someone who supposedly did well during his tenure, so there is need for patience. What is important is the platform that they have given him. Football is a process and I’m sure the Ngezi system is fully aware of that and they will need to give him time to implement his philosophy. It might take some bit of time before he starts getting results, but I fully believe in his abilities.”

“We must also give credit to Ngezi for believing in Benjie and giving him a platform to practise what he already knew, so hopefully he can have good results, particularly the first few games are going to be key for him,” Ndiraya said.

Ndiraya and Mwaruwari worked together at the national senior men’s team, the Warriors, when they were part of Zdravko Logarušić’s backroom staff.

“I saw the potential that he has and when you add on to what he has acquired in those years in terms of knowledge, he would really come up with a very good blend. So I’m going to support him. He is a good friend of mine and I can only wish him well.”

Ndiraya spent years at Ngezi, winning them the Chibuku Super Cup, but it was not enough for the ambitious side who decided to let go of the former Dynamos midfielder.

Ndiraya, however, warned Mwaruwari that his new job was very demanding.

“He has to quickly grow. I would like to liken the conditions at Ngezi to those at Dynamos or Highlanders or any other big team. It’s pressure all the time to produce results sorely because they have invested in their project and will continue to invest in it. They want a return on their investment.”

It’s been seven years since Ngezi were promoted into the top flight league, and in that period, they have invested a lot in the project including constructing a well-equipped stadium. Their players are some of the best remunerated in the local league. But they have only the Chibuku Super Cup title to show for it. The premier league title which has been stubbornly elusive so far remains their prime target.

“I understand where all the pressures come from, and if you ask me they are justified (for demanding results). But like I said, they will need to be patient with the coaches if they are to realise the fruits of their investment.”

Dynamos will be seeking to win at Ngezi, something they have not managed in six years and Ndiraya is one of the reasons for their failure as he often plotted DeMbare’s frustration while he was coaching the Mhondo-Ngezi-based side.

After winning their last five matches, the Harare giants have reduced the gap on log leaders Chicken Inn to within one point, and a win today could see them move top of the log standings.

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