20 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Mutasa's Plea... Dembare Coach Asks for Support

NEARLY every week that his charges are in action, Lloyd Mutasa has often come under the spotlight with debate largely centred on whether he is the right man to help Dynamos turn the corner and become a dominant force in domestic football once again. Mutasa's plight has not been any better because of a club management that seems to be sending conflicting signals despite claiming to be fully behind the coach.

Just last week, Dynamos were being linked with a move for Dutch coach Erol Akbay who is currently attached to major rivals Highlanders. The DeMbare leadership have also been constantly linked with a plot to try and lure Callisto Pasuwa back into their dressing room.

Dynamos' failure to win their opening two games against FC Platinum at home and Triangle away has also added to the pressure on Mutasa. But the former Dynamos midfielder yesterday made a passionate plea to the club for support and patience as he goes about rebuilding his squad.

Mutasa believes their Independence Cup wins over CAPS United in the semi-finals and Highlanders in the final could be the turning point for his youthful side as it gives them the impetus they badly needed.

The coach was left purring after his team's triumph in the Uhuru Cup, with Mutasa pointing to the performances in particular as the factors that have left him convinced that his side will mount a strong challenge for the Premiership title and other silverware on offer.

But Mutasa insists he can only achieve that dream with the full backing of the club and patience from both the supporters and management.

The Glamour Boys needed a penalty shoot-out win over Highlanders to bag the silverware on Tuesday after the match had ended 1-1 in regulation time.

They had beaten CAPS United 1-0 in the semi-finals two days earlier.

Mutasa spoke highly of the new-look team and said the success could be a huge morale booster especially after starting the season on a dampened mood with a point from two games.

The former Kiglon and Highway coach attempted a similar programme in 2011 when he introduced the likes of Denver Mukamba, Devon Chafa, Gift Bello, Archford Gutu and a virtually unknown Rodreck Mutuma into the fold.

The team looked promising but results took too long to come and the executive lost patience before kicking him out of the job towards the end of the season to open the door for Pasuwa who went on to win four titles in succession.

Mutasa believes the 2017 class which has seen the likes of Zimbabwe Under-20 international Peace Makaha, Emmanuel Mandiranga, Gift Saunyama, Quality Kangadze and Cameroonian Ntouba Epoupa Christian Joel coming to the fore, has the same qualities which need the patience and trust of both the supporters and the club's leadership.

"The supporters should know we are in this together. We might not yet be at the level that some of them expect but these guys are doing their best and they can only improve with time.

"It's only through their support that this team will return to greatness. But to me, with what these guys have done so far, they have passed the initial test.

"If you look back, we lost to FC Platinum, CAPS United and Highlanders -- the big three teams last year and probably for these youngsters to have that element of belief we were fortunate enough to meet these sides in the early part of the season. I am sure it will spur us to do better.

"And with what they have done obviously expectations will be high on the part of the supporters.

"We beat two big teams in two days and you know what it means winning against your biggest rivals.

"Our battle now is to maintain that level of performance so that we don't lose it in the league marathon. We would need the consistency," said Mutasa.

Mutasa reckoned that his youth brigade have the character he needed after Phakamani Dube, Mandiranga and Makaha held their nerve to win them silverware in the shoot-out lottery when senior players Ocean Mushure and Masimba Mambare had seemingly buckled under pressure and missed their kicks.

Youthful goalkeeper Tonderai Mateyaunga was the unsung hero after saving two penalties during the shoot-out which Dynamos won 3-2.

"You look at how these youngsters are developing. For a player like Peace Makaha, if you look at the responsibility under such a huge crowd and the young man had to do it.

"I can only say to him keep your feet on the ground and the Lord will help him go places. And with Mateyaunga, I think this young man has worked very hard. He was just waiting for his moment and I am sure this tournament is his," said Mutasa.

Dynamos are now looking to shift their attention back to the Premiership as they travel to Hwange this Sunday.

They have started their campaign with a 1-0 loss to FC Platinum and then drew 2-2 against Triangle.

Mutasa must also be worried by the rate at which his team has been conceding penalties which have cost them points.

In fact DeMbare have conceded penalties in their last four games against FC Platinum, Triangle in the league and CAPS United and Highlanders in the Uhuru Cup.

DeMbare conceded a late injury time penalty against Highlanders on Tuesday to force the Uhuru Cup into a shoot-out.

"I think we should improve on our concentration. Most of these penalties were handling offences either towards the end of the first half or towards the end of the match.

"Those are key moments in a match and it looks like we are losing concentration when we need it the most. It's something that needs to be worked on," said Mutasa.

But after remembering what it means to climb the podium as a winner, Mutasa reckons he could have found his mojo this time around.

Fixtures Tomorrow: Black Rhinos v Bantu Rovers (National Sports Stadium)

Saturday: Bulawayo City v FC Platinum (Barbourfields), How Mine v Chapungu (Luveve), Yadah v Ngezi Platinum (NSS)

Sunday: Triangle United v Chicken Inn (Gibbo), Hwange v Dynamos (Colliery), CAPS United v Tsholotsho (NSS), Highlanders v ZPC Kariba (Barbourfields), Shabanie Mine v Harare City (Maglas)

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