Mapeza opens up on losing 2023 league title Norman Mapeza

Veronica Gwaze Sports Reporter

AFTER missing out on setting a new domestic record of winning five titles in a row for FC Platinum last year, head coach Norman Mapeza feels that what happened are in fact ripple effects of what was supposed to happen in 2022.

The Platinum miners completed the season in position four with 55 points, 10 behind eventual champions Ngezi Platinum Stars.

Manica Diamonds and Chibuku Super Cup Winners Dynamos were on second and third positions, respectively.

Mapeza won his first league title with Monomotapa in 2008 before repeating the feat with FC Platinum in 2017, 2018 and 2022.

However, last season, just when many hoped to see the celebrated gaffer extend his dominance in the domestic league, the Zvishavane-based side could not keep up with the title race.

In an interview with Zimpapers Sport on the sidelines of a Premier Soccer League-organised Coaches’ Workshop in Harare yesterday, Mapeza revealed that in 2022, the Zvishavane side was not supposed to win the league title.

“When you are into football, there are some other things that you need to look at. Looking at our position last season, I thought in 2022 we were not supposed to win the league,” said Mapeza.

“What happened last year was supposed to happen in 2022, I am not going to say much about it. The bottom line is that, in 2022 we were not supposed to have won the league because of what had happened; most of our senior players left the club, so it was more like rebuilding.

“When people thought maybe we were supposed to push for another title, I thought it was more about rebuilding the team and having a more solid squad.”
Silas Songani, Stanley Ngala, Rahman Kutsanzira, Ralph Kawondera and Kelvin Madzongwe are some of the senior players who left the club at the start of 2022.
Then William Stima, Blessing Moyo, Nigel Makumbe, Onifade Abubakar Temitope and Evidence Tendayi left in 2023.
Despite the rebuilding, Mapeza acknowledged that the Platinum miners still had title ambitions and that the team is ready to script another piece of history this season.
“At the end of the day we could not manage to win but it is all part of the game, we learn every day,” he said.

“However, we need to come out of what happened last season, be ready mentally and brace for the new season.”

Mapeza said he was satisfied with the preparations in his camp ahead of the 2024 season, which kicks off next week.

To bolster his squad, the coach roped in former Herentals attacking midfielder Davison Marowa, central midfielder Shepherd Mhlanga from Chicken Inn, ex-Black Mambas player Bothwell Nzori and goalkeeper David Bizabani who used to guard the goal post for GreenFuel.

The team also promoted Anesu Chirinda and Tapiwa Manuel Reves from their developmental side.

And Mapeza is confident that they will be one of the title contenders this season.

“Everything has been going well for us. We started off our pre-season in Zvishavane then we had two weeks in Bulawayo where it had much to do with team building and physical fitness,” he said.

“The past few weeks we have been back in Zvishavane and our stadium is being renovated. So we did not have much time for friendly matches but today we had one against Shabanie Mine, though I am yet to find out how it went.”

The platinum miners will get the season underway against newboys Chegutu Pirates next Saturday at Mandava.

“It is promising to be an exciting season; we are just waiting to hear which one will be the 18th team so that in terms of planning we know where exactly we are heading to.

“It is preseason and much to do with the physical part of training for two or three weeks then tactical and technical and now it is more to do with friendly matches but generally, from what I have seen, we are ready now.

“We are pushing for the same objectives as any other club, the championship. There is nothing we are going to fight for except the league, we will push for the title.”

Former captain Petros Mhari, who retired at the end of last season, has bounced back at the Platinum Miners as the Under-19 Goalkeepers’ coach, while Gift Bello is also back in the structures of the senior team.

However, some of the club’s senior players who include Gift Bello and Innocent Mucheneka left.

A delighted Mapeza said the club felt that it was time for some of these senior players to face new challenges.

“It feels good when some of your senior players feel the need to face new challenges, we also felt it was good for their development,” he said.

“I also feel happy to have some of our former players coming back into the structures in other roles, it makes our job easier because they have been there and they understand the setup, the ideas, vision and traditions of the club.”

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