29 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Pagels' Big Dream

Photo: CAF
Zimbabwe nation soccer team 'The Warriors'

GERMAN expatriate coach Klaus Dieter Pagels insists all hope is not lost for the Warriors despite their 2014 World Cup qualification bid having got off to a poor start.

Pagels, installed as the senior team's caretaker coach on Tuesday following the resignation of Rahman Gumbo last week, said he was hopeful the Warriors who have drawn their opening two qualifiers against Guinea at home and Mozambique away could still revive their qualification hopes in their remaining five matches.

The Warriors will face former African champions Egypt at home and away, travel to Guinea and host the Mambas of Mozambique in the capital.

With 15 more points at stake and only the group winners advancing to the second and final phase of the World Cup qualifiers, Pagels who will begin his Warriors tenure with a tough away assignment against the Pharaohs of Egypt maintained that Zimbabwe could still shoot to the top pf the standings.

The German coach who arrived in the country two years ago as a technical advisor at Zifa under the auspices of the Olympic Solidarity Fund on the secondment of the German Olympic Federation, will now double up as Warriors mentor until the expiry of his initial contract in July next year.

The tall coach who has also helped in the revival of the Mighty Warriors and junior development programmes, yesterday spoke about his appointment and revealed his disappointment with the Warriors' failure to qualify for the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa.

Pagels, who becomes the third German national after the late Reinhard Fabisch and Rudi Gutendorf to coach the Warriors, is confident that the senior team could strike a new chord under his mentorship.

He has also been given the freedom to choose his backroom staff and is expected to submit his list of assistants to Zifa after the weekend.

"For me the game is over when I hear the final whistle in this competition. You need to have a dream and you have to work on it and realise it.

"I hope in this short time we can come up with a good team that can play tactically and maybe, I am not promising, but maybe after the game against Egypt we can start talking," said Pagels.

Pagels is no complete stranger to the Warriors having closely followed their progress when Norman Mapeza was in charge of the senior side.

The German national who has probably seen more matches than most of the local coaches, believes he is at an advantage and will also use the knowledge of the domestic game that he has gained to pick a new and strong Warriors squad.

Pagels said he believes that there are a lot of talented players plying their trade on the domestic front and hinted that he would call only a few foreign-based players such as Knowledge Musona and Quincy Antipas to complement them.

The coach is also an admirer of Warriors talismanic forward Musona.

"We have good players from here and will combine with Musona who moved to his new team and Matongorere (Nelson) and I talked to his coaches when we went to Augsburg for a coaches conference, and they say he is big talent and has a very good work rate.

"Players like Antipas, for me he is a good player, if he is played in the right position he can play well. His team was voted the team of the year in Denmark and he played a lot of matches.

"You build a team from the back and from the team which last played in Angola, their defence I would go for local players as what the foreign players brought into the team I can still get that from the local players.

"I think the difference with my team is that I will try to find players who can play and fit into my philosophy and the tactics. I will not choose a player because he is from one big club and is a big name but cannot play to my tactics.

"There are so many talented players here but we have to work with them. I would want to meet with the local players every four weeks for only two days to tell them my philosophy of football and that we can play tactically.

"When I worked with the Mighty Warriors I preferred one touch football and I didn't like players who dribbled or played long wide balls, as that is what modern football requires," said Pagels.

Before he gets down to business with the Warriors, Pagels will next week travel to his native Germany for the festive season holidays.

Although Zifa have received the flak for the Warriors slump, Pagels who has been working hand in glove with Zifa technical director Matongorere, argued that the association was not entirely to blame for the problems facing the national game.

"The biggest challenge is to bring in players who understand my philosophy, in the short space of time. Players who can run for each other, who have team spirit and who will not think that we are playing Egypt, so we are out as they are a good team.

"I want players who are confident and can walk onto the pitch full of confidence.

"We agreed a lot of things with Zifa and that I come up with my own technical team which is really important to me. They have problems at Zifa mainly that there is no money and I hope that with this new start sponsors will come in because companies always tell them there must be change.

"My new job will not disturb my role because there are about four games next year and because of the Fifa calendar you can only get four or five days in camp. My contract will expire at the end of July and it would then be up to Zifa to hire me as a free agent or not.

"They (Zifa) are not to blame for everything, and even the media contributed to what happened in Angola as everyone thought that the team had already qualified after the first leg," said Pagels.

The Warriors blew a 3-1 first leg lead in their final Nations Cup qualifier and lost 2-0 in Luanda to bow out of a dream chance to be one of the popular sides at the continental football showcase across the Limpopo.

Now Pagels has a daunting task to try and bring back the confidence that the nation has lost in its flagship soccer team.

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