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Benjani out to confound critics

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BY HENRY MHARA
NGEZI Platinum Stars coach Benjani Mwaruwari claims that there are some people who are hoping that he fails at the club and says he is desperate to prove the detractors wrong.

The Warriors legend was handed the reins at the Mhondoro-Ngezi-based club at the end of March to take baby steps in his coaching career. .

Madamburo’s decision to hire the 43-year-old received mixed reactions from the football community, with some opining that it was a big gamble for a club targeting the title.

The Undertaker, as Mwaruwari is affectionately known, will not silence the critics with his slow start to life at the club.

He has taken charge of eight games, recording just two wins, four draws and two defeats.

Speaking during a chat show,  this week, Mwaruwari said he had grown accustomed to facing those who want to see him fail.

“I’m enjoying it (being coach at Ngezi Platinum Stars) though it’s a challenge,” Mwaruwari said.

“I’m liking the challenge. A lot of people say I will fail and that is giving me the drive. When people constantly tell me that I will fail, it motivates me. For me there are only two results, either I will succeed or fail. I might fail in the end but of course I want to succeed. It’s all about the people around me. Am I having the right team, people who want to learn, who want to work hard and be the stars of Zimbabwe.”

Asked if he was not discouraged by the criticism, Mwaruwari was emphatic in his response.

“No, not at all. Sometimes when they criticise me it’s just their opinion. When someone says you are not good enough you have to go back and work hard to be good enough. That is what you do if you want to succeed.”

He said he had grown used to dealing with critics throughout his footballing career which saw him rising from the dusty grounds of Lulu Rovers to the bright lights of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

Instead of complaining about the criticism, most of which he says is unfair, he simply redoubles his efforts.

“I did well and went to Europe. But most people really don’t know what took me there. It was through hard work and discipline. If you stick to discipline and work, hard you will achieve.”

“I want to bring back what I learnt in Europe and inspire young lads, and also try to take some of the kids to Europe. So whoever is saying I will not succeed, I’m not bothered because I chose to be the coach. I have to work hard to be the best coach and that is my wish. I have to earn it even if I have the advantage of coming in as Benjani. In this industry you have to have critics. If you don’t have critics you, might think you are doing well. You need to have those people to push you. I want more of them so that they can push me to do better.”

Mwaruwari signed a four-year contract at Ngezi Platinum Stars and his brief is to win the elusive league title.

His team sits seventh on the log standings with 25 points, 10 behind log leaders Chicken Inn at the halfway stage of the season.

On current form, it will take a miracle for Ngezi to close the gap on the top teams and snatch the league title this season.

Thus, Mwaruwari is pleading for patience.

“My target is to win the league,” Mwaruwari said.

“I hope and wish that they can give me the time that I need. I came in when they had played nine games and were in a good position on the log standings, so I need to maintain that and show them my philosophy. It takes time for the team to understand what I want. I’m so glad that the boys are responding so well even though we will need to strengthen in some areas. But in this business there is no time, that’s the unfortunate part. Every game counts, I need to win games and be up there to try and win the league title.”

On the programme, Mwaruwari discussed a variety of things. From how the Registrar-General erroneously printed the name Benjani Mwaruwari on his birth certificate instead of Mpenjani Mwalughali, his successful playing career, to his first coaching job at Ngezi.

Mwaruwari began his playing career at Lulu Rovers in Division One and also played for University of Zimbabwe also in the same division.

He was snapped up by Air Zimbabwe Jets in the Premier League in 1999 before moving to South African club Jomo Cosmos in the same year.

After a successful stint at Jomo Cosmos where he was voted 2001 PSL Player of the Season and PSL Players’ Player of the Season, he moved to Europe that same year to join Swiss side Grasshopper Club Zürich before moving to AJ Auxerre a year later.

He signed with Premier League club Portsmouth in 2006 after former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger recommended the player to Harry Redknapp.

Mwaruwari then went on to play in England’s topflight for Manchester City, Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers before returning to Portsmouth in 2011. The following year, he returned to South Africa with Chippa United and then Bidvest Wits before hanging his boots.

  • Follow Henry onTwitter @henrymhara

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