4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Mandenge Targets League Final

OLD HARARIANS coach, Cyprian "Supa" Mandenge, cannot wait to take his charges through their paces as he targets a place in the league final this year. But the coach feels their dream can only come true if the Old Boys pull in the same direction throughout this year's National Rugby League season.

Mandenge joined the Old Boys from bitter rivals Harare Sports Club last Friday as he could not get a substantive coaching position because of the rotational system at the champions' base.

The former Varsity coach signed a one-year contract with the Old Boys and believes the side can improve to make it into the top two at the end of the season.

Since 2007, the Old Boys have just been a pale shadow of themselves, struggling to make a mark in the league and falling at the semi-final stage.

But Mandenge feels he can turn the tables around.

"My main target at Old Hararians this year is to make sure that we make it into the final but first we must have a home semi-final," said Mandenge.

"I believe we can make it I have already set my plan for the season and all I just need now is to make sure that the players buy into it.

"My first meeting or training session with the players is next week and that is when I will roll out my plans to the players.

"I cannot make it to the top by myself but for us to be successful we need to work together, both players and management, in order to achieve this goal.

"It is a very realistic goal because the way OH played towards the end of last season showed a lot of potential.

"They are a side that has been finishing in the top four over the years.

"This shows that they have been making it to the semi-final but could not break into the top two so a bit of work here and there would give the side a top two finish and that is my target for this year."

The Old Boys are set to start their pre-season training on Tuesday and, according to Mandenge, most of the players are showing signs of a positive mentality, as they are already training by themselves.

Having watched the Old Boys play in the league, Mandenge has basic knowledge of what is needed if the club is to turn into a success story again.

Since the turn of the millennium, Old Hararians won the league six times on the trot (three times as the Northern Rugby League and the other three as the National Rugby League) but over the past five years the title has changed hands between Harare Sports Club and Old Georgians.

"The players are raring to go I understand that some of the players are already hitting the gym and that is the right attitude if you are to become a champion," said Mandenge.

"There is no need for the players to be pushed; they need to feel it within themselves.

"I have already made my plans for the year and all I need is for the players to buy into it and that is what we will do next week so that we make sure we are reading from the same page.

"But first thing is we will start with conditioning sessions and when the season starts, we have to take it game by game because it is not only us who have such dreams but it's every coaches' dream to make it into the final."

The Old Boys, said Mandenge, have to go back to basics.

"We have to work on the basics and that is why we are starting early," said the coach.

"Old Hararians has always had good players but some players stopped playing due to various reasons including economic, some would just leave and each time there would be new players.

"So there was no continuity, there was a sudden change in players and that is another area that we need to look at and have a core team."

Mandenge added that players would have to battle for their places in the team.

"Sports Club, Matland Warriors, Gweru and all others want to make it so our players have to believe in themselves.

"There is no one with a guaranteed jersey in the team and so it is my wish that we have a trial game before the season starts so we see who fits where.

"Obviously, the club has its own style of rugby but there is need to have at least three game plans on each day and this would also change with the opposition.

"However, I am happy that the players here have a never-say-die spirit and that is going to help us achieve our goals," said the former Sport Club coach.

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