Zimbabwe: Mapisa Adjusting to Spanish Lockdown

ZIMBABWE'S youth international football goalkeeper, Martin "Neuer" Mapisa, is finding ways to deal with the on-going coronavirus lockdown in Spain.

He is attached to that country's lower division side Zamora Club de Futbol.

All football activities across Europe have been frozen due to the coronavirus outbreak with Spain among one of the hotspots.

No Spanish side has played a competitive game since March 11.

And Mapisa (21) is among hundreds of football stars who are currently in self-isolation due to the coronavirus lockdown in Spain.

Speaking to The Herald yesterday, Mapisa, who in January moved to promotion-eyeing Zamora FC from Velez CF, said he was coping with the lockdown in Spain.

"I'm just staying at home, respecting the rules of the lockdown and God is with me . . . that's the (most) important thing," said Mapisa.

"I'm practising in the gym and our team always give us training programmes everyday so all I miss is just being on the field."

Zamora is a city in the autonomous community of Castile and León in Spain.

A product of the Aces Youth Soccer Academy in Harare, Mapisa first moved to Spain in 2018 where he initially joined that country's seventh-tier club CD Almuñécar City, becoming the first goalkeeper from Zimbabwe to be signed by a Spanish football club.

Mapisa, who is the only goalkeeper from Zimbabwe plying his trade in Europe, did not stay long at CD Almuñécar City.

He was quickly snatched by Spanish fourth tier side Vélez CF in January 2019.

But, his exploits between the sticks did not escape the attention of Zamora CF who lured him to join them at the beginning of this year.

Mapisa quickly established himself as the club's first-choice goalkeeper and played four out of seven matches before matches were called off last month.

They won twice, drew once and lost once.

Asked how his new teammates at Zamora CF had welcomed him, especially given he is a young goalkeeper from Africa and coming from a small country like Zimbabwe, Mapisa said he got a warm reception.

"I think, at first, they didn't trust me during my first game because the other goalkeeper had never been on the bench," he said.

"But, then, I made my debut and everything quickly changed and they (the club's technical department) put all their trust in me . . . the coach always believes in me so I had nothing to be ashamed of.

"They (the other players at Zamora CF) are good teammates, it's only that it's normal if you are new at some place and you won't get trusted so early but as time goes on they will trust you in whatever you do."

The young goalkeeper made his debut for the Young Warriors in the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Mozambique in March last year.

But, the Young Warriors failed to qualify for the youth tournament's finals, staged in Egypt towards the end of last year, after they lost to South Africa in the final qualifying round.

Mapisa was then called-up by the Warriors coach, Croatian Zdravko "Loga" Logarusic, for the back-to-back 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Algeria which were scheduled for the end of last month.

The matches were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He was named among a contingent of eight Europe-based players, who included Belgium-based skipper Knowledge Musona, Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba, Alec Mudimu (Moldova), Marshall Munetsi (France), Teenage Hadebe (Turkey) and Tino Kadewere (France), who has lit the French Ligue 2 with his goal-scoring prowess.

The Warriors technical team had also extended the call to England-based striker Macauley Bonne.

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