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Mapeza wants to create a monster out of FC Platinum

by Staff reporter
20 Jun 2021 at 07:18hrs | Views
NORMAN MAPEZA is dreaming big once again.

He is looking into the future as he attempts to revitalise FC Platinum and turn them into a monster that can dominate domestic football "for years to come".

FC Platinum have already won the last three successive Premiership championships.

It is now exactly seven months since Mapeza renewed his marriage with the platinum miners, having bounced back following a stint in South Africa, where he took charge of DStv Premiership side Chippa United.

He describes his South African sojourn as a fact-finding mission.

"I went there (South Africa) to learn and, yes, I learnt quite a bit down there," he told The Sunday Mail Sport yesterday.

"I just wanted to learn more in a new environment and also to discover how they do their stuff there. I wanted to find out how their clubs operate.

"I discovered that most of the clubs there play more of the same type of football.

"Most of the clubs, save for say Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, try to play like Mamelodi Sundowns.

"Sundowns are the benchmark of the South African league and everyone tries to play like them; the only difference being the quality of players.

"Sundowns have the players to play some nice brand of football. But overall, there wasn't much there. However, in terms of organisation and sponsorship, they are up there."

At FC Platinum, he is now operating in a new environment with some new players he inherited from the side that had been put together by Dutchman Pieter De Jongh.

There is also a new executive set-up.

Fabian Mashingaidze replaced the long-serving George Mawere as president in March 2020.

"I have come back and there is a new executive, a new president of the club, new players, but I can say so far so good.

"I am charmed by the support I am getting from the new executive. Our new president, Mashingaidze, is supportive."

Since his return, Mapeza has taken charge of four CAF Champions League matches (he won three), two Confederation Cup games (which he lost) and three Chibuku Super Cup encounters.

The Zvishavane outfit began their assault on the 2021 Chibuku Super Cup with a 6-0 thumping of Whawha, edged Triangle 2-1 before losing to Ngezi Platinum Stars by an identical scoreline.

Focus on the future

Although veteran forward Rodwell Chinyengetere has been the star of the team with four goals, there was something about FC Platinum that caught the eye - the introduction of youthful players in the starting line-up.

Left-back Kelvin Mangiza (18) and midfielder Panashe Mutimbanyoka (19) are slowly establishing themselves at Pure Platinum Play.

"I am thinking about the future; I am thinking about building a team that will still be dominant even in the next three or so years, that is why I am introducing these youngsters," said Mapeza.

FC Platinum won three consecutive league championships before 2020 when domestic action was halted by the coronavirus and a whole season was lost.

The former Warriors' player is known to have an insatiable appetite for success.

He wants more.

"We have players like Gift Bello who have served this club so well, but they are reaching the twilight of their careers.

"So, we have to start planning for the future now. We have brought in Mangiza and he has done well at left-back.

"We have to keep giving these youngsters a chance. My focus is on the future now."

While he has an impeccable record in the league, FC Platinum's performance on the continent has been far from convincing.

Although they have reached the Champions League group stage twice, their low win rate is alarming.

The miners have featured in 30 Champions league matches since 2012 and have won nine times, drawn eight times and lost on 13 occasions.

This translates to a 38 percent success rate.

"Stats do not lie," acknowledged Mapeza.

"We haven't done well in Africa but we are working on it. We have a new squad now and it's like we are starting to build again.

"Save for the likes of Bello, Petros Mhari, William Stima and Francis Tizayi, most of the players in the squad have no Champions League experience.

"When I left in 2019, the squad had grown into a competitive unit but the club brought in some new guys when I was away. The coaches who were here had their own plans and systems they wanted to employ.

"So, it's not going to be an easy challenge. It's not going to be easy reaching certain levels I want. We have to sit down, look at the current squad and see where we can improve.

"It will be dangerous to start talking about targets in the Champions League now before we carry a thorough assessment of the staff we have.

"If there was a league last year, then maybe I would have picked some more players, but we will have to work hard to achieve more with what we have.

"Locally, we are okay, but in Africa we have a lot of work to do."

His men will represent Zimbabwe again in the 2021-2022 Champions League as there was no league race last year.

However, the former Zimbabwe captain's record on the domestic scene is awesome.

During his first stint at the club, FC Platinum played 161 league matches between August 11, 2014 and September 12, 2019.

They won 94 matches, drew 46 times and lost 21 games.

It's an impressive 68 percent pass mark.

He also won the Chibuku Super Cup in 2014 and was a losing finalist in 2016.

He has presided over a total of 15 Chibuku Super Cup matches, winning 10 of them.

"It is all about hard work, commitment, dedication and teamwork. It was also about the support we got from our previous president George Mawere.

"The fans have also been there for us. Even when I briefly left the club, some of them kept in touch. They are a fantastic lot and my hope is that they will soon be allowed back into the stadiums."

FC Platinum were doing well in the 2021 Chibuku Super Cup before football was stopped by Government as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of a possible third wave of the coronavirus.

The 33-year-old Chinyengetere leads the scorers' charts with four goals.

The two-time Soccer Star of the Year (2017 and 2018) has struck a good working relationship with the hard-to-please Mapeza.

"I brought him from Hwange (in 2016) because I had picked up some of the good aspects of his game. He is a very intelligent player who understands exactly the way we operate here at FC Platinum.

"He gives us more in terms of guiding the other players. Twice he was Soccer Star of the Year here and he was also once a top goal scorer in the league. That tells you how good he is. I trust him a lot."

The 49-year-old coach explained his relationship with one of his most trusted lieutenants – his assistant Daniel Veremu.

When Mapeza quit FC Platinum, he took him with him to Chippa United and when he returned, the ex-Gunners centre-back was once again in tow.

"In coaching, you just need to work with someone you trust.

"Some coaches have had troubles with their assistants because of lack of trust, but with Danny (Veremu) I am rest assured.

"He is not someone who will backbite or badmouth the head coach. He will not exonerate himself from the blame when we lose.

"If we lose, we lose together; if we win, we win together. Even when I am not available for a training session, he is someone I trust will do exactly what is required."

A former player with Turkish outfit Galatasaray, Mapeza is closely following the ongoing UEFA European Football Championships and has so far been impressed by Roberto Mancini's Italy.

The Azzurri are already into the last 16 after back-to-back 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland.

"They (Italy) are very organised and their movement is brilliant.

"I have been watching all the games . . . I watch football to learn; I want to learn how these coaches change formations during play.

"I want to learn what they do without the ball and with the ball.

"If I want my centre-back to improve, I will instruct him to watch how Rafael Varane operates for France. If it's about box-to-box movement, I will tell my players to watch N'golo Kante.

"If France get to the final, I will analyse how they did it. If there are changes made by Didier Deschamps, I would want to find out why he brought in so and so and to what effect," he said.

But with three titles already in the bag and the sound administration to back him, he could yet be on course to achieving his audacious target.

Source - sundaymail

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