Coach Mhofu hits back

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT - Lang­ton Nyak­wenda

SUN­DAY CHIDZAMBWA is baf­fled by the “witch-hunt­ing” that has char­ac­terised the af­ter­math of Zim­babwe’s loss to Liberia in a 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions soc­cer qual­i­fier.

“I am afraid we are slowly be­com­ing a na­tion of alarmists. Some­times one gets dis­cour­aged by some of the silly sen­ti­ments that usu­ally come up when­ever we lose a game,” said the War­riors gaf­fer.

“Come on. We still top the group and have a very big chance of seal­ing it at home against Congo. This is African foot­ball; it’s not easy play­ing away from home.

“In­stead of re­group­ing and start fo­cus­ing on the match against Congo, we are all over ask­ing a lot of ques­tions. Some peo­ple even have the au­dac­ity of ac­cus­ing me of tak­ing bribes from play­ers … this in not foot­ball at all.”

Ques­tions were raised over Chidzambwa’s team se­lec­tion and tac­tics on that fruit­less out­ing in Mon­rovia last Sun­day.

Why did he start Tino Kadewere as the front man when the Le Havre striker has not seen ac­tion in over three months?

Why plunge for­mer skip­per Wil­lard Kat­sande into the deep end when the hard man is not as hard as he has been af­ter quit­ting the War­riors months back?

Why play Mar­shal Munetsi at right­back in­stead of his usual cen­tral mid­field role?

Chidzambwa has an­swers to those ques­tions, and the gist of it is that he and his tech­ni­cal staff made the right calls.

“Kadewere didn’t play badly. Yes, he missed a lot of chances, but at least he was get­ting into scor­ing po­si­tions,” said the War­riors coach.

“I hear some say­ing he was com­ing back from an in­jury and my ques­tion to them is who wasn’t? Evans Rusike was also com­ing from an in­jury.

“To us it be­came an is­sue of who was bet­ter suited for the bat­tle, Evans or Tino, and to us Tino was bet­ter. Ac­tu­ally I feel sorry for Kadewere.

“Be­sides, a coach can­not dream or fore­tell that a player will go off-form be­fore the game. You can only find out a player is off-form af­ter you play him.

“As for Kat­sande, the is­sue is we wanted a nat­u­ral re­place­ment for Danny Phiri who was in­jured in DR Congo and we opted for Kat­sande’s ex­pe­ri­ence. To me Wil­lard played well, he won a lot of tus­sles, he did well.”

The leg­endary gaf­fer feels crit­ics are not be­ing fair.

“Peo­ple will be watch­ing the match on TV and I can only for­give them for mak­ing their con­clu­sions about our play. The weather was very hot and hu­mid. Our young­sters were brave; they played their hearts out.

“This is not about Sun­day Chidzambwa, it’s about all of us as Zim­bab­weans, ev­ery­one’s in­put is crit­i­cal. Foot­ball is not played dur­ing the 90 min­utes alone. The match starts a week or so be­fore; we look at how you pre­pare, how fit your play­ers are, and how mo­ti­vated they are.

“We never trained in Liberia. We ar­rived Thurs­day evening. The Euro­pean-based play­ers ar­rived on Fri­day night, so ef­fec­tively - as a team

we only had one train­ing ses­sion. All th­ese fac­tors come into play,” said Chidzambwa.

Sun­day Chidzambwa

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