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Mapeza concerned about future of Zim football

ANGOLAN SIDE STILL WARY OF FC PLATINUM

Mapeza concerned about future of Zim football

WARRIORS interim coach, Norman Mapeza, believes Zimbabwean football needs to find a way to revive its junior development programmes or suffer the consequences of a slow and painful death.

The championship-winning gaffer was handed the role to complete the remainder of the disastrous 2022 World Cup campaign, after ZIFA finally saw the light, and kicked out the hapless Zdravko Logarusic.

Mapeza, who is also the head coach at FC Platinum, is set to complete his Warriors assignments with dates against South Africa and Ethiopia this month.

There has been a huge national outcry over the way domestic football has lost its way, with the Warriors having been turned into whipping boys, in their international assignments.

The absence of an exciting emerging crop of new footballers has also meant the national team coaches have been forced to rely on veterans, including some, who no longer make the grade.

“We have talent as a country but that counts for nothing, as long as we don’t guard and nature it jealously,’’ said Mapeza.

“We need a strong junior policy that will see every club being compelled to have say a reserve team, made up of Under-18 or Under-20 (sides).

“These sides will be playing every week where their senior teams will be playing.’’

Mapeza said junior national team coaches will also have an easy job of selecting players, in such a scenario, unlike what is currently obtaining, where the selection criteria is not even clear.

“Right now, we have a team going for the African Union Sports Council Region Five Games in Lesotho,’’ he said.

“Where did the coach see those players?

“But, if we had a national junior league, we will be having that information in our data base.”

He said it wasn’t surprising that, unlike during their days where one could find a secondary school student playing for a Premier Soccer League club, these days players make their debut, in the top-flight, at over 20 years.

“Guys like Mackay Nyathi, Peter Ndlovu, Willard Khumalo, Thabani Moyo, Alois Bunjira, Methembe Ndlovu and many others became household names when they were still going to school,’’ he said.

“(It’s) because junior football was respected back then.

“It’s now only memories.”

He said it was worrying that coaches nowadays spend time teaching football basics, at senior club or even national team level yet those issues should have been dealt with at junior levels.

“We need to move away from being an events country, football success is a process and I tell you if we start now and come up with a strong and clear-cut junior police, devoid of such vices like cheating, Zimbabwe can and will be a force in not so long a future,’’ he said.

“Right now we don’t even know where the next Knowledge Musona will come from.’’

A number of football development experts like Zivanayi “Zifa’’ Chiyangwa, Weekly Mwale and Lloyd “MaBlanyo’’ Chigowe have been pushed out of the domestic football structures, for one reason or another.

These are men who spent countless hours in the trenches, searching for and nurturing, the next generation of the country’s footballers.

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