Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Arsene Wenger will reign very soon

In our last look at the English Premier League, we looked at the blind faith of the Manchester United fans that they are already champions. Three matches on, they amassed 9 out of 9 points, scoring 10 goals in the process. Maybe they have a case.

Chelsea fans, like those elsewhere in AC Milan, F.C Porto and Real Madrid, know when it is time to celebrate when Jose Mourinho is in the house. So the Red Devils can really be forgiven to celebrate this early.

My take is this; All the teams and coaches always revered and feared a JM coached. They feel intimated and inferior. The Man U performance thus far makes all their opponents afraid, and very afraid. This makes United's job half complete.

There is a Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rushford factor. Martial is an evergreen thread and De Gea is solid. If one tries to look at the possible loopholes in that team, it may take you a season to find one. Team spirit and teamwork are matched by a complete and satisfying work ethic from everyone. I feel Ibrahimovic will come in to give more stability to the coach's attacking options.

We predicted a good performance from Arsenal and then a revolt from the Gunners fans. However, we did not anticipate these events to be so close to each other and to come so soon. Arsene Wenger did not convince many in that English Premier League season opener against Leicester City. 

The match was easy on the eye by devoid of tactical maturity and class. We were skeptical in joining the celebration party after that match. The latest demolition job by Liverpool proved us right in saying that Arsenal has very good players but the worst ever team in the league.

The players' body language was the easiest book to read. Wenger can not do anything positive to that team at all. High profile players like Mezuit Ozil looked mentally broken. The rest were extremely fragile. Alexis Sanchez, who wanted out did not look the part. Actually, Arsenal should have let him go.

No one can question Arsene's football brain and his stubbornness, but we still believe in miracles and that the man still has a little pride, no matter how small. If we are right, the man will resign next week. And in that case, a strong coach with a high reputation will come and transform dressing room mentality and attitude and maximise that team's potential.

Let assume we are wrong and the Frenchman stays on, what then can save the Gunners? Simple. Sell the entire squad and get young, cheap, naive and easy to manipulate professional who can 'yes Sir' Wenger. Otherwise, Arsenal will be in the relegation battle for the majority of the season.

This story has a flip side. A disappointing Liverpool pulled out a shocker in walloping a hapless Arsenal and suddenly, Jurgen Klopp seems to be the man. Our prediction was that the Reds are a spent force who did not need Coutinho now. 

With Barcelona throwing cash like confetti at Liverpool, the Merseyside giants should gladly cash in and bank the money. There is not much need to get into the market for them now. Their followers think there is a need for a centre back and central anchoring midfielder. We have not analysised or seem possible candidates for that matter, so it is a question of the German's taste and so far, we are failing to enter his taste buds.

May we temporarily apologise our questioning of the longevity of his gengen pressing in this season. There is a temptation to say Arsenal were naive in any case, but giving credit where it is due, many duels were won in high pressing areas leading to the goals. 

If we take a microscopic look, we would say it is early days. The good thing is that the Sedio Mane instincts look intact as this moment and all hope that his injuries will be minimum. Daniel Sturridge needs to be mentioned as he did what he usually does when he comes in from the bench. And again, he needs a much more injury free season than anyone in the world's five top leagues.

As one of the greatest symphasisers of Tottenham Hotspur, there was not a single attempt to give an excuse for the use of Wembley Stadium. Maybe we should have. White Hart Lane always presented a thread even before the match started. At the current rate, as opposed to the intimidation of the current Manchester United bullishness, Spurs are vulnerable to every Jack and Jill. All teams feel they have a chance against them at Wembley. 

Mauricio Poccetthino's boys will be feeling tired soon if the results do not come early enough. We mentioned one serious factor for them on day one. As long as Harry Kane is not finding the net, his frustration will work against the team and his confidence. Delle Ali also needs to have his game a notch up when Kane is firing blanks.

There is no doubt that in Moussa Dembele and Victor Wanyama, they have one of the strongest central midfielders in the world today, but without the crazy scampering on the wings of Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, the load will remain against them after the completion of each swing attack.

Let us see what Manchester City brought to the table so far. I see a better team than last season, but definitely, nothing to make us think they are better than Chelsea and United. Even with their target, Alexis Sanchez, it would be hard to see how the set-up could influence the title in their favour. 

Rumour has it that they intended offloading Jesus Navas and a few other players to the Gunners for the South American. Theoretically, the possible combination with Sergio Aguero should be hair-raising but Pep Guardiola can mess up a good stew and turn it into biter medicine at the click of a finger. City is a team that has already hit the ceiling. They may reinvent themselves and get rejuvenated but there is not much excitement in that squad.

Finally, as Chelsea strolled through the park, they picked up easy points. Could it be that all teams will jst bend over for a spanking? Maybe there is so much respect for Antonio Conte, but that easy win versus Everton worked for and against them. The good thing was that they picked up points without hitting top gear, basically on a rest day.

The negative aspect of that situation is a loss of top match fitness. Managing that situation going forward will be critical as to how long The Blues catch up the rest of the league in match fitness. At the beginning of the season, one prefers being stretched to the limit and prevail, and that momentum carries you in buoyant and quiet times in the season. 

We are tempted to make more predictions based on tactical analysis of what transpired so far. Indicators prove that our first article on the matter was over 80 % correct up to Match 3. The league may still welcome few great names of the game from other major leagues, and that may change a lot, but frankly, we see no major changes.

Paul Pogba, Marcus Rushford, Martial, Mane, Cesc Fabregas, Ali, Kane, Aguero will determine the destination of the league. 

At the bottom, new boys will kiss the league goodbye.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Highlanders Tshilamoya - The Great Defenders

(The late Mercedes Sibanda with the late Willard Mashinkila Khumalo)
Complementing the charismatic goal-minders of yester year, were the Highlanders central defenders known to have been solid, hard, tough and imposing. 

Douglas Mloyi was a vocal and agile figure who imposed his presence without any silliness, a clean take-no prisoner tough as a teak tackler.

Despite his perceived rough play, ‘British’ never received a red card in his long and distinguished career at Bosso and the national team. He was such a marvelous player and a great humble man who still attracts positive vibes from young and old fans alike. 

Alex ‘Zanda’ Maseko was a fortress and specialist of aerial superiority and master of interception. Indeed the ‘Cool Ruler’ was a great tight marker and sweeper of high pedigree with strength, confidence and sure-footedness.

He played for the national team alongside John Phiri in a formidable partnership. He started playing a traditional Number 10 position and ended his football in South Africa where he played for a number of teams including Mamelodi Sundowns. He briefly played for Darryn T in 1988 before coming back to Bosso.

Cleopas Dlodlo’s services are tattooed in the Bosso faithful owing to his elastic agility. Nkatha, as he was called by myriads of fans, had the speed of thought and presence of mind, tracking and tackling well and hard. 

Dilo Dilo had an excellent sense of humour and his move to Kaizer Chiefs was a fitting tribute to the class of a man whose charisma should have flourished at Amakhosi. He played alongside Doctor Khumalo, Robson Mtshitshwa at Naturena. Dlodlo also featured for Moroka Swallows, the Dube Birds.

Thulani Ncube was the most incredible character. ‘Captain Fantastic’ was both very combative and calculative. He marked tight and timed his tackles to perfection. ‘Biya’ initiated attacks, surged forward after winning the ball and scored some amazing goals.

The most important quality he possessed was leadership. He is the only man ever I know in the whole world, who captained three different teams at once, i.e. Highlanders, National Under-23 squad and Zimbabwe Warriors. He played for Cape Town Spurs before going overseas where he is coaching the youth. Biya runs an academy with his firends in Zimbabwe.

Melody Wafawanaka was stocky, playing in the same eccentric way Dlodlo, Mloyi and Zanda did. ‘Nkalakatha’ took no prisoners. He was agile and headed the ball very well. He formed a solid partnership with Biya. Wafawanaka joined Bosso from Black Rhinos and his short spell had such an impact on the club and fans that he will always be remembered as a force to reckon with at the back.

Bekithemba ‘SamaNdloo’ Ndlovu was a war-horse, versatile to play as a right back and centre back as well. ‘Mabatha’, Kelvin Kaindu’s assistant at some point, was a very passionate player who started very nervously and sometimes clumsy in challenges. He matured slowly to be a defensive rock of note.

Beke’s career took him to Moroka Swallows, Silver Stars and Platinum Stars. His influential roles in these teams saw him playing different positions with much success. 

Dazy Kapenya was a cool ruler of his generation. ‘Walker’ was mean and went forward to attack. While he did not score so many goals, but his excellent passing skills were superb. He dribbled strikers in the dangerous areas. He partnered Biya, Nkalakatha and SaMaNdlo.

Kapenya played for Manning Rangers of South Africa, but he was uncomfortable in many unfamiliar roles he was assigned to. Like many Highlanders defenders, he did not feature in many national teams as he deserved somehow.

Lenny Gwata was one no nonsense defender with a heart-stopping tackling ability and fighting spirit. Gwata was very solid and made strikers very uncomfortable with his tough presence in duels. Gwata’s career took him to Dynamos Football Club where he was also an iconic figure with his steely combats.

Gilbert Banda, a young telling defender, was very solid in all aspets of the game. Gilbert now plays for FC Platinum. He was a rock and had years of excellence ahead of him. 

Phephisani Ndebele played well as a man marker. He was crucial in the many championships Bosso had. His combative stunts made him an easy choice for his role. Phephe always played with his heart and was well-trusted by his teammates. 

Itai Godzamapere was a central defender of high dedication and full of encouragement. ‘Mafero’ always pushed his peers to the limit and tackled very well. He played an old-fashioned conventional sweeper but did not feature prominently in the first team.

Itai Masawi was a very strong right back overlapping with a lot of thoughtfulness. He always played a calculated game with well-timed tackles and interceptions. He was consistent and dependable.  

He was intelligent unassuming player of enviable technical qualities, he attacked well and was solid in defence. The two Itais, Masawi and Godzamapere played together sometimes.

Sikhumbuzo Ndebele was another noticeable central defender mostly used by Roy Barretto. His tactical awareness made him very useful as he followed instructions very well. His playing days were folded when he went and played for Amazulu Football Club where he greatly matured for many years.

Fanuel ‘Launcher Ncane’ Ncube (mazita kupfekerana) was a determined right back of his time. ‘Malume’ was jittery when faced by Eagles’ Boy Ndlovu. The best thing about him was that he never dived into tackles. He flew when in attack mode on the right wing to deliver beautiful crosses for the likes of Nhamo Shambira and Dumisani Ngulube to score. Ncane had long spells in Botswana and enjoyed his football there until his last days.

Abraham Mbambo was so quick and fast, and loved overlapping just as much. ‘Nejane’ could do everything right and fail to deliver a pinpoint cross. People always wanted him to be perfect, but after the hard running and the steam is low, it was not always possible. He became one of the long standing members of Bosso players of all time.

It is said Mbambo was first on the list of Gibson Homela’s national team because of his discipline, dedication and respect for the game. He is one of the many players who started and ended their careers wearing the black and white stripe.

Dumisani Nyoni was the best left-footed defender for a long time in the country. There was an argument that he was probably the best in Africa in his prime. His crosses were accurate. ‘Savimbi’ was quick on his feet. He never waited for a move to mature before he was on his bike calling for a through ball on his overlaps. He played in national teams on many occassions.

Noel Kaseke had an educated foot and appetite to do well. Noel always wanted to learn and do well. He came to me after every training session or match asking for his assessment. He would say to me, ‘Coach, tell me even if it is bad. I want to know the truth so I can improve’.

Simon ‘Makwee’ Sibanda is one of the shortest defenders you will ever find anywhere. ‘Doink’ was so versatile and was so talented. His technique and timing always won the day for him.

Makwee scored a few goals and some of them wonderful. He represented the country’s junior teams on several occasions.

Netsai Moyo was a complete and rounded player with great vision and heart. ‘Super’ was such a wonderful and gifted team player with an unbelievable understanding of the game. He was always super in attack and defence, running and dribbling on the flanks.

It was during his days that the inspired Lovemore Majaivana cut a famous record, ‘Badlala njani ibhola’. 

Mercedes Sibanda was so good that friends and foes alike admired him. A great character with humour, ‘Rambo’ packed right-footed shots of canon-like power and accuracy. 

He became a great dead-ball specialist with comic arrangements with Willard Khumalo and Madinda Ndlovu. He was arguably the best right back in Africa for a long time. When he captained the national team and he was introducing players to the honourable delegates, he introduced himself as ‘John Rambo’ to the laughter of the dignitaries who knew him and all the players.

Melusi Sibanda played a special role as a wing or central defender. Mabaleka was a consistent and dependable ball winner. As a young and tireless work-horse, he became one of the crowd favourites and never let down the coaches.

Anzlom Ndlovu graduated from the youth teams and proved to be a defensive stalwart to rank among the best during his years as a faithful central defender at Highlanders. He complimented Malala very well, both having been groomed for the first team as a pair.

We pay respect to the many others who proudly wore the Bosso shirts, living and those who passed on. No one can never forget the joy they brought to the many homes during the glory days.

Who are your top back four?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Highlanders Tshilamoya; The Great Goalkeepers

(Captain Oxo - He called everyone his boss "My - boss")
Let us go down memory lane for a moment, and remember the temperamental, eccentric, agile, flamboyant, erratic, entertaining and charismatic show-stopping shot-stoppers who played for Highlanders Football Club in the yester years. 

Highlanders produced Bruce Grobbelaar of Liverpool of England, considered one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world during his playing days. He was in the Bosso team by his 16th birthday. The ‘Jungleman’ had a very successful career at Liverpool in the 1980s, winning everything there was on offer.

Grobbelaar won the UEFA Champions League in the mid-1980s, the first African to do so and remained the pillar and image of the game in England for a long time.

His antics and penalty saving successes were attributed to his charisma and the jelly-leg tricks. He saved many penalties by wobbling his legs and swaying his body and arms as if boneless.

The truth of the matter is that the man was class and a joy to watch. The acrobatics seen in those days were later simulated by goalkeepers like Peter Schmeichel, Jorge Campos, Jose Luis Chilavert and Rene Higuita of the famous donkey of scorpion kick.

Peter Nkomo also made his debut for Bosso at a tender age. ‘Captain Oxo’ was also nicknamed ‘Umangoye’ (Cat) for his claws on the ball. He was a fine handler of the ball, without any fancy tricky but sure and safe pair of hands.

He made history with a trip to a 5-aside World Cup tournament in the Soviet Union in 1980. He was referred to as ‘the one who went to Moscow’. Moscow turned to ‘Oscow’. That degenerated to Oxo, and that process was catalysed by a TV commercial of Captain Oxo.

What stands out for me for this great legend is his humility. He called everyone around him, 'My boss' and became known as such. And with each encounter with him, he took the time to ask how your family was doing and at the end, made sure he sends warm regards to your family as if he knew them personally.

Peter was a courageous goalie. He commanded his defence well, being a fine shot stopper of high quality, with abilities to organise and communicate. Oxo had issues with his footwork although he started playing as an attacker. 

His in-field playing experience helped read the strikers' mind and thwart them effectively. The Goalkeeper of the Year winner and Soccer Star of the Year finalist continued to endear himself in the hearts and souls of Tshilamoya fans.

It is said on some bad days, Peter would be easily beaten by Shaky Tauro and Joel Shambo shots, in fact, the whole Caps United of that era, with Stanley Ndunduma and Stix Mtizwa. In those matches, a shot would fly past into the net without even Oxo moving or looking, and he would lie flat on the ground and his defenders - Douglas Mloyi and Fanuel Ncube would come to him to see if he was injured.

Then he would ask, "Lingenile s'bare?" (Is it a goal?) because the stadium would be too noisy to hear the whistle from the referee. And they would tell him it was a goal. The next question; "Athini amaNdebele?" (What do the Ndebeles say?) They would tell him that the fans are angry. "Bathi, vuka uvimbe amabhola" (They say rise and catch the balls). 

Joseph Tembo was nicknamed ‘Masawa’ (Sour milk delivery man) because he came from Rio Dairiboard FC and was very good with cutting out crosses, probably because of his height. He ranked very high with those who saw a lot of him in the mid-1980s.

This is the only goalkeeper to give Peter Nkomo a good run for his money and could have easily been a national team goal minder if he played longer patiently.

The junior policy produced Sydney Zimunya. ‘Bruno’, as he was affectionately known, had excellent moments and bad days. The unfortunate thing was that these bad moments came on the same day as the good. He had a commanding voice at the back and great organising skills. His team mates really loved him.

Smart ‘My Tshomie’ Moyo is another of the goalkeepers that Bosso had. He was just as dependable. After a breath-taking save, a simple ball would beat him to the disappointment of the fans. He was a loud organiser and believer in himself.

Musawenkosi Masango played well at the beginning of his career and played in the All-Africa games in Egypt in the early 1990s. ‘Rawu’ had good shot stopping abilities, but he was a little quiet for a great goalkeeper, being at the mercy of strikers. Rawu had a reasonably long spell between the poles for Highlanders. He was a Fitter and Turner by profession, having apprenticed at the Railways.

Mthandazo Sithole and Francis Muringayi never cemented their first team places. Mthizozo played few matches and moved to Darryn T where he played a few seasons, while Fra had cameo appearances during the time of a Milton High teacher, Weis, from the United States of America. His career was always in the shadow of his brother Charles, who kept goals for Chapungu United.

Pope Moyo was in a young squad assembled by Madinda while Pernell McKop was an intelligent goalkeeper. He retired early due to a back injury.

Johannes ‘SamaTshu’ Tshuma had many heart-stopping acrobatic antics and great confidence. He was very confident and encouraged all who played with him all the time to be very positive all the time. 
Joe joined Highlanders from Wankie F.C. after the career-ending injury to Oxo. He endeared himself well with breath-taking saves and ball distribution.

Lucky Siziba was a lanky product of the youth development junior policy. Mayiboka was excellent with crosses but low balls were his Achilles heel. Lucky Siziba played for Amazulu and Railstars in prominent roles that saw those teams gaining promotion from Division One to the Premier League.

The revered Ananias Dube is one of the Bosso keepers we had. Dube was a member of the popular team that won the team’s first Chibuku Trophy at Rufaro Stadium when a convoy of Phelandaba Bus Service ferried the first recorded road-show to Harare in 1973. Remember the song, 'Ngubani owayekhona?'.

Many still regard him as the best ever because of his agility and reflexes. He was short, agile and very brave. His legendary status was soiled by his migration to Olympics during the rebellious split.

Robert Donga was very temperamental, as they said he was a short fuse, but organised his defenders very well. To recognise his excellence between the posts, he was called on to represent Rhodesia and Bulawayo select teams.

There was Mandla, referred to by many as ‘Stiletto’. This man was incredibly agile given his physical challenge on one leg, diving well on both sides.

Amon Chimbalanga was a very serious goalie who hated to lose. He was a complete goalkeeper whose footwork may have been a little better and many referred to him as ‘Bululu’, (Puff Adder) for his cheeky antics against his own defenders.

It is claimed that the love of money compromised his integrity and became a tool of external forces to penetrate the Bosso community to influence the outcome of matches. This vulnerability to these agents tainted the great career and he should have been a regular national goalkeeper.

Tapuwa Kapini was eccentric and charismatic. ‘Campos’ had confidence and excellent technique. He went on to represent the country more than any other Bosso goalkeeper did. He liked playing as an inside player and had tricks of Grobbelaar.

Edmore Sibanda had the confidence to walk on water. ‘Mamkhwebu’ had unrivaled antics in goals. Fans would have their hearts in their mouths and yet he kept goals secure. He had fine reflexes which atoned for the crazy and heart-stopping moments.

He ranks amongst the best of the goalkeepers ever along with Brito Gwere and young Luckson Mutanga. Gwere played key roles in the years before Kapini rose to prominence and acquitted himself well, being simple and unstylish but very dependable goalie.

Lawrence Phiri played in goals on many occasions when the regular goalkeepers failed to turn up for the matches. He never got a chance to claim the jersey permanently. All will know that he gained his club legendary status as a utility out field player known as Lofty.

George Moyo, like Smart Moyo, had careers cut short by the liberation war and on their return, they found Oxo solid and established as the main team stalwart in his lengthy service to the club. His contribution could easily be forgotten due to the short spell with Bosso.

Kingston Phiri and CB Mahlangu, like Masango, Muringayi, Smart, and Sydney lived in the shadow of Captain Oxo and their careers as Highlanders' legends never took off.

Enerst Ncube Mgwegwe was a complete goalkeeper to many who saw him and had the promise and potential but he did not blossom to be a great goalie he could have been.
He 'disappeared' from the football scene.

There was also Prosper Masuku, tall and intimidating. He was a promising prospect. Malvern Moyo was also a promising goalie who never lived up to his potential.

When Madinda Ndlovu built the mid-1990s Thulani Ncube captained squad, he used Pope Moyo, who grew with each game but never convinced the fans to be the number one. Pope repaid the club with loyalty although under pressure each week to perform.

Lackson Mutanga also matured to play for the club and could have grown to be a super keeper as he played in junior national teams. 

There was also Chenjerai Dube, a strong goalkeeper considered for national teams, having excelled in Hwange. That move from the Coal Miners proved fatal as Kapini was at his prime. He never had much chance to shine.

Njabulo Nyoni came too late into his career and played his part. Ariel Sibanda is also an agiler and intelligent keeper, a little too quiet to command his defence but still has potential to play for the national team regularly.

Ater all is said and done, they all bring some memory in one form or another. Some make you smile while others made you mad and angry. Most of them had weaknesses and their excuses were always that they saw two many balls coming their way. 

Angry defenders would always shout at them, "Bamba wonke wena ....(huge insult)" (Catch both balls, you ......).

They were one of a kind.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Manchester United are champions already - to their fans

(Romelu the man - Getty Images)
Manchester United are champions already - to their fans, but there are 37 more matches to play, and they will not West Ham United every weekend.

There is a reason to believe they can go all the way. 

Except for Chelsea fans, everyone knows what Romelu Lukaku scores when he wants. 

Besides, coach Jose Mourinho is known to have a little horse, give it a little milk and it wins the race the next season. JM is not The Special One for nothing and you do not have to like him.

Nemanja Matic proved an asset all know he can be, touching the ball more than any player in the Man U 4-0  win over the Hammers.

The English Premier League season started with a scintillating Arsenal versus Leicester City, with seven marvelous goals and a reasonable pace of the game to match - a 4-3 win for the Gunners.

Amongst much exciting news around the new 2017/18 season, Wayne Rooney scored on his second Everton debut as the Toffees beat Stoke City 1-0, Lukaku scored a double, Matic won the man of the match in his Man U debut and his former club, Chelsea - the champions, lost their opener 3-2 against Burnley.

Disappointing as it may, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool drew 3-3 in their first league match against Watford while Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City convincingly won 2-0 their matches over Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion respectively.

As much as every fan feel their team has the capacity to lift the EPL in May 2018, Man U feel like it is done and dusted and what makes it a solid case is the fear the whole league fears after Paul Pogba also came to the party.

Marcus Rushford was something else and United looked solid and strolled after their third goal, but Manchester City seems to be playing the way the coach ever wanted. 

Arsenal looked a familiar 4th place contender, with the team playing as flat as ever, only different players. Arsene Wenger can be assured of the 'Wenger must go' campaigns very soon. 

Klopp will have a few headaches to nurse as the sting of his tactics have been blunt and seem to be easily neutralized by the English physicality of the game.

Mauricio Pochettino has the same young squad with pace and purpose. Whether they gained enough experience and can challenge for the title will have to depend on the form and fitness of Dele Alli and Harry Kane.

The Spurs advantage is the ability to turn on the style when needed but this is a new season, the fact that the Hurricane did not find the net on Day One is a psychological hump. 

Chelsea seems to be more rugged than fluent in their approach and much will depend on their flexibility as the going gets tough.

I wish I could say much about Leicester City, who kept a core of key players in the league but may lose Jaime Vardy soon, and West Ham who acquired some of the best and experienced footballers around.

May I say as much as I am seduced by Man U, their fans have to chill. Man City is the real deal. Chelsea will be back. Tottenham is still the team to beat.

There is a token challenge from Liverpool and Arsenal and nothing else. Lukaku will be a top scorer without a doubt.

We will unpack the league with a little detail next week.

Let me see if you agree with me that Wenger will fail dismally and finally get fired.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Highlanders: Bobby's Circuit Warm Up

Previously at some post, we detailed a Bobby Circuit warm up routine. Continuing from that, the over and under pattern would repeat itself until the leaders were in front and everyone was done.

The next exercise entailed the front pair sprinting 10 meters and then lay on their stomachs flat on the ground, heads towards each other but creating a 1- meter wide corridor, and the next two doing the same and laying about 2 meters further.

This allowed the whole crew to sprint at full stride over an array of flat bodies.Then the leading pair knelt on all fours, facing each other with about a meter space in between them.

The following pair hopped feet together over the human obstacles and kneeling on all fours, in the same manner, leaving enough space for one to hop over once without
hurting anyone. 

The routine went on until the leaders were in front and everyone had their turn. The benefits of this complete physical condition and cardiovascular and respiratory preparation, was harmony amongst players, as the exercise was such fun.

There would be enough recovery time after each bout of exercise. Pairs always enjoyed competing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to set up an attack

Once the team building process has developed from the goalkeeper, defense organization and midfield preparation, the offensive part is pursued.
Before we engage the actual issues, it must be noted that the goalkeeper, centre back, central midfielder/anchor/destroyer and a good striker form the team spine.

whether you play with one, two or three strikers, you need to employ tactics in the team that will allow one extra fresh player to execute an attack when ball possession is regained.

In the case of a lone striker, think of his abilities. 

Can he play alone as a target man, that is, turning and running or dribbling towards the goal?

Or does he hold on to the ball, screen the defenders off the ball while waiting for support from attacking midfielders who must feed off him? 

Playing with two strikers requires assessing your style of play as a coach critically and other players involved in the attack. 

The two strikers may play square alongside each other or in tandem, one in front of the other. 

When pressing high, football intelligence is critical.

It is unwise to work hard to win the ball up high and when the ball is won, the team has no energy to use it

Attackers need to work antagonistically like pistons during defending high or pressing in the attacking third.

This means that if one attacker approaches the ball, the next one must withdraw a little
body language is key.

The player approaching the ball needs to move in a way to force play in a certain direction.
This gives the trailing player the ability to anticipate well and get a better chance to retrieve the ball.

Tactically, the team is in attack when they have possession of the ball. It means the goalkeeper may initiate many attacks in a match and the attacking tactics must start with him.

The ball distribution from him, that is the ability to accurately pass the ball to a teammate quickly is very critical

This is so, because the team attacking strongly to end the ball with the goalkeeper is out of balance defensively.

The quick and accurate ball release takes advantage of this instability as a counter-attack in initiated. This is the other crucial reason why a team must have a fresh attacker free, possibly along the centre line on the wings.

In attack, the pace is everything. Good offensive teams have quality players who think quicker and act faster.

The margins, in this case, may mean a difference between a good team and the champions. 

Happy coaching folks.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Highlanders; The Technical Advisor

(Bosso Tshilamoya)
I joined the Highlanders Football Club technical team as Technical Advisor in 2001, and, compared to my predecessors, I was too young and had had too much success too early, and the whole deal became disastrous.

Amongst many memorable times, one of my greatest moments at the Club was a match against local city rivals, Amazulu Football Club. We beat Usuthu at Luveve 4-2 coming from 0-2 at half time, in one of Bosso’s best ever games.

During my short stay at Bosso as the TA, we won two trophies after we beat Dynamos twice within weeks of each other. 

It was a Dairiboard Charity Cup at Barbourfields Stadium and the Independence Cup at the National Sports Stadium of Harare.

I am very proud of the achievements of the development program that produced Honour Gombami and Malala among others. During my stay, Mkhokheli Dube and Gilbert Banda were fast maturing and it is fulfilling to see where they are now.

Johannes Ngodzo played his worst football then because he was a Highlanders and then a Railstars player while I was the coach there before he joined Bosso again. He had refused my attempts to keep him with the Sporo men.

In reuniting with him at Tshilamoya, the feeling of guilt hindered his game despite my assurances and encouragement. He could only get his touch back in years to come. 

The upcoming team of that time had potential to move mountains like the famous Liverpool. I proposed that we form a Division 2 football then to afford the youngsters competitive football on a weekly basis. It sounded ridiculous then, to have two Highlanders teams registered in different leagues, according to the team manager, Ernest Sibanda Maphepha. I am glad the system is in operation now.

Working with Kenedy Ndebele, Liqhwa Gama and Isaac Mlilo under the leadership of Mangwana Tshuma was a rewarding experience. There was never a single moment that salaries were not paid on time.

Professionalism was at its best, but the technical team did not measure up to the standards in terms of following the plans and schedules. Everyone was paid their friendly matches appearance fees at the stadium. For international matches, the payment was in cash and 3 days before the travel dates.

That was efficiency at its best. The support given by Nhlanhla Bahlangene Dube and Onius Ndebele of Computon was encouraging. They assisted players with their personal needs in their personal capacities.

I had tremendous support and a great relationship with ‘abadala bempankeni’ (elders from the groove), the Board members. They were very encouraging and of course, humorous.

In a different world and at a different time I could have served Bosso in a telling way. I have a conviction that I could have won Africa Champions League with that team and management. I really do. With Captain Fantastic, Thulani Biya Ncube, the first player ever to captain the club team, Under 23 national team and the senior national at the same, the leadership on and off the field strengthened the personal playing attributes of everyone in the team and the dressing room.

I still harbor the ambitions to do so. Time will tell and that is a story for another day.

I have no regrets at all and I learned quite a lot very fast. There was no boring moment and the camping was always a comedy show. The spirit was very good and the unity amazing. Siza 'Nkinko' Khoza always kept everyone in stitches at camp. There were strong characters like Richard Dabuka Express Choruma, Blessing MaGuma Guma Gumiso, Charles Chief Chilufya.

Who can forget Eddie Dube, Melody Nkalakatha Wafawanaka, Gift Thebe Junior, Britto Gwere and Tapuwa Kapini amongst others?

Having a Brazilian mentality of periodisation and sticking to the book at all times, trying to influence a local process purely based on playing experience, was very uncomfortable with our own established set up. 

I compromised on my principles and began to see my appointment as a long-term strategy for the club. And how wrong I was. It lasted 6 months.

My perfectionist attitude did not help much and my high expectations of the Highlanders set-up was very unrealistic. More often than not, success gives the impression that there is progress, but for me success and progress are different, and I was looking forward to getting both simultaneously.

Highlanders won several titles and a few attempts in the African Champions’ League before my arrival at the club. I had watched the latest botched attempt against Cameroon’s Sable de Batiethat was played at the Barbourfields Stadium.

I watched with a lot of interest and analysed it as much as possible and passed my thoughts to the technical team. From that match, I knew it would not be easy to change the fortunes of the team overnight. Exactly 12 months later, I was appointed Technical Advisor and the story was the same. 

As before, this was a home-brewed disaster, many people crossing the bridge before we got to the river. There is no substitute for proper preparation.

The greed of taking the glory of leading the team to Canaan was the war between the technical department, which I was supposed to lead, and the Executive Committee led by late Retired Colonel James Mangwana Tshuma.

The two of us led our camps that had underlying currents, as both our second-in-command did not tango well with each other. In the technical team, the problem was magnified by the fact that Rush needed to take my advice, but he was solely responsible for the team performance and results and had the final say. He made it clear I understood that.

I had acquired a high-level Advanced Diploma in Brazilian Football, of which Professors Carlos Alberto Pereira and Julio Cesar Leal were some of the lecturers. It is not an Advanced Diploma for nothing, and it is not a chance that the Brazilians have won the FIFA World Cup a record six times, and every other football competition in this world.

Other prominent lecturers in that course included Professors Neto Esphezim, Paipfer Lula, Alberto Lancetta and Sebastiao Araujo who wrote many books and played alongside Pele and Mario Zagallo in the 1958 FIFA World Cup.

I really enjoyed a great deal in all the road shows, and the full stadia everywhere we played. I had influence and leadership at promoting Railstars Football Club from the Division One with Barry Daka in 1997 and those moments brought so much joy and satisfaction. 

In between, I formed a Division Two football academy KFA after purchasing Joseph James' Thorngrove status. In 38 matches, we scored over 100 goals and amassed over 100 points but Olivine won the promotion. That Academy produced Farai Zidane Mujokoro.

At the end of my tenure, I was physically and mentally drained and Delma Lupepe asked to assist Jerry Mafripa (MHSRIP) but I could not take up the offer. Lupepe always wanted me to work with Charles Mhlauri at Amazulu before I joined Bosso, but his management team did not play ball and I do not regret I chose Mantengwane.

Do people still sing Mantengwane?