19 February 2013

Zimbabwe/South Africa: Mutuma Raring to Go

RODRICK Mutuma, the self-styled Prince of Zimbabwean football, is sharpening his skills ahead of his much-anticipated debut for his new South African Premiership side Bloemfontein Celtic with a little bit of help from former Warriors and CAPS United bustling striker George Nechironga.

Mutuma moved to Bloemfontein Celtic last month after helping Dynamos to a league and cup double during the 2012 season in which he scored 19 goals in all competitions.

But after inking a three-year deal with Bloemfontein Celtic, Mutuma is yet to appear for Phunya Sele Sele as he is still waiting to get a work permit which will see him donning the green and white jersey of the Bloemfontein-based side.

It takes a minimum of 21 (working) days for a foreign player to get a work permit in South Africa which Mutuma is yet to be granted and this has seen him missing Bloemfontein Celtic's opening two matches since the resumption of the South African Absa Premier League following the end of the 2013 African Cup of Nations finals on February 10.

But the 24-year-old striker is waiting patiently to be granted his work permit by the relevant authorities in South Africa and yesterday he told The Herald from his base in Bloemfontein that he was likely to feature for his new side next weekend and was "ready and waiting" to make an immediate impact in the South African Premiership.

Mutuma also revealed yesterday that he was currently being helped to settle down at Bloemfontein Celtic by non-other-than his fellow countryman, Nechironga, who is now part of the Phunya Sele Sele technical team.

"So far, so good . . . I can safely say that I've settled down at Bloemfontein Celtic despite me not having played for them in their first two matches since the resumption of the Absa Premiership a couple of weeks ago.

"I'm still waiting for my work permit to be processed and I think it will come up or be ready by next weekend and I just can't wait to put on the green and white jersey of Bloemfontein Celtic. I've been training really hard since I arrived here last month and I'm getting most of my support from (mukoma) George Nechironga.

"He has been taking me for some shooting drills, sharpening my firing skills and refining every aspect of my game and I can say he has been really helpful to me.

"In fact, he (Nechironga) has helped me to settle down quickly at Bloemfontein Celtic where everything is run professionally as compared to back home . . . I'm already feeling at home because of the personal assistance that I'm receiving from him.

"Although everybody has been helpful to me here, Nechironga has been going out of his way to make sure that everything is okay for me . . . He has helped me to settle down here and he knows the whole set-up at this club and their style of play and that's why I've managed to catch up with everything quickly," Mutuma said.

Nechironga, the 1990 joint Soccer Star of the Year award winner with the legendary Peter Ndlovu, yesterday confirmed that he was currently working with Mutuma, helping to sharpen his skills ahead of his debut appearance for Bloemfontein Celtic.

"We are actually on our way to a training session where I'm taking him for some shooting drills . . . I'm teaching him how to hit the target correctly because that's an area that he needs to improve on otherwise everything is fine with him," Nechironga said.

The former CAPS United hard running striker said it was important for Mutuma to "find his feet quickly" inorder for him to win the hearts of the Bloemfontein Celtic faithful.

"He needs to score quickly inorder for him to settle down in the first team and this will also see him winning the hearts or becoming the darling of the Bloemfontein Celtic fans because they've been told that he's a good striker who scores freely and that is why I'm pushing him and taking him for some extra practice sessions.

"In fact, I've spoken to Rodrick about how he must perform, he is a good guy and can play some good football . . . I think he will be a hit here at Bloemfontein Celtic just like what he was at Dynamos back home in Zimbabwe," Nechironga said.

Mutuma, the 2011 Premiership Golden Boot Award winner, had an indifferent start to the 2012 season, but later picked up his game to play a key role in Dynamos's successful defence of the local Premiership and the Mbada Diamonds Cup titles.

His exploits on the pitch did not escape the attention of the Bloemfontein Celtic scouts and he was called for a two-week trial with Phunya Sele Sele towards the end of December last year. And Mutuma did not disappoint during his trial period at Bloemfontein Celtic where he made the grade and was given a three-year deal by Phunya Sele Sele who paid Dynamos a reported US$100 000 for his transfer fee. He was the third key player to leave Dynamos for a South African Premiership side this year after Denver Mukamba and Simba Sithole who also packed their bags and joined Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United respectively.

Meanwhile, Bloemfontein Celtic continued their impressive form at home when they outsmarted Mukamba's Bidvest Wits 3-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Tonight, they will face Khama Billiat's struggling Ajax Cape Town at Athlone Stadium in the Mother City.

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