Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
HE is regarded as one of the finest footballers to emerge on the domestic scene and was the first player to win the Soccer Star of the Year award in independent Zimbabwe.
Yesterday, David “Yogi” Mandigora celebrated his 62nd birthday just a few weeks before his beloved Warriors plunge into the AFCON finals in Egypt.
It’s sad his generation, which also included the likes of George “Mastermind” Shaya and Sunday Chidzambwa, never made it to the AFCON finals.
The former Zimbabwe and Dynamos midfielder believes the Warriors have what it takes to shake the continent at the next Nations Cup finals. Mandigora said the Warriors should draw inspiration from their qualifying campaign where they finished top in Group G with 11 points.
“I am just hoping that this time around they will go beyond the group stages and I think if they can have adequate preparations it would be good,’’ he said.
“As usual, we wish them good luck and we hope all will go well this time.
“Maybe, looking at the players we have, the likes of Khama (Billiat) and (Knowledge) Musona, I think we have quite some good and experienced players in the team.
“I think they will reach the knockout stages because of the way they qualified and the group they were in during qualification it was tough comparing to the way we qualified for the previous AFCON finals.
“What is needed is for them not to be afraid of the opposition, they should have confidence in themselves.’’ Mandigora was assistant coach to Charles Mhlauri during 2006 AFCON finals in Egypt.
He also served as the Warriors assistant coach under the late Armando Ferreira and Brazilian Valinhos.
He says a lot has changed from their generation in the ‘80s.
“Then, it was difficult (to qualify for the AFCON finals) because we didn’t have exposure, we would almost qualify but fail,’’ he said.
“But we nearly qualified for the 1982 World Cup. We lost to Cameroon.
“Those were our first games against other countries, we had just got our independence.’’
While Mandigora is convinced that, with confidence and the right support, the Warriors can stand their own ground in Egypt, he expressed concern over his former club — Dynamos. “I think what’s happening at Dynamos is painful. I think the kind of players that are there at the moment are not the kind of players we expect to play for Dynamos,’’ said Mandigora.
“I think other teams have better players in terms of experience and skill.
“I don’t know the reason why they are in this situation. Maybe it’s sponsorship, I don’t know. But it’s not very good.
“I have not attended their matches for sometime now, and I can’t comment much since I have not seen them playing, I just saw them, I think, once on television this year.’’
However, the former Dynamos midfielder and coach pointed out that the arrival of coach Tonderai Ndiraya, who took over from Lloyd Chigowe, has had some positive effect on the team. “I think they have changed. When Tonde (Ndiraya) came with the other guys that are there now I think there has been a bit of improvement. So, we just hope that they can do something for the team to be in a better position,” said Mandigora.