Zimbabwean head coach, Norman Mapeza, on Friday morning shocked local journalists when he said he has never heard of some of the Zimbabwean players plying their trade in the be MOBILE Premier League.
Addressing a press conference at Lekidi Football Centre in Gaborone on the eve of the Zebras-Warriors’ international friendly game which was played at UB Stadium yesterday (Saturday), Mapeza said, “The thing is, some of the players here I’ve never heard of them. (Terrence) Mandaza was a top scorer in the Botswana League but I’ve not heard of him (before he joined South African side Platinum Stars from Township Rollers). I know some of the (Zimbabwean) coaches here and if they recommend some of the players, I’ll definitely consider them.”
In a separate interview, Mapeza said only Mochudi Centre Chiefs’ midfielder Elvis Meleka has featured for the Warriors a couple of times, but was dropped from the squad due to weight problems.
Mapeza’s statement surprised journalists present, some of whom had earlier burst into wild laughter in response to his words. This led them to question whether Botswana teams sign mediocre Zimbabwean players.
“What he’s saying is that our clubs sign sub-standard players. That also means that even some of the Zimbabwean coaches here are not good. I think Botswana Football Association (BFA) has to set a standard that every foreign player who comes here should at least have played for his country’s Under-23 side,” Radio Botswana commentator Tiroyaone Lepotokisi observed.
Botswana Television (Btv) sports reporter, Treasure Mothobo, concurred with Lepotokisi that BFA has to set a standard for the foreign players who come and play in our top league.
“It’s embarrassing for us to rate players who are not even known in their respective countries. In some of the countries, you cannot break into their Premier League unless you meet the standards set by the association of that country,” said Mothobi.
TAFIC spokesperson, Thomas Tshabalala, rubbished Mapeza’s statements saying that he is just making an excuse of not considering players in Botswana. He pointed out that they have signed midfielder Tafadzwa Maingire from top Zimbabwean side Dynamos.
“He (Maingire) was part of the Dynamos’ side which played GU (Gaborone United) in the Champions League in 2009. That’s where we saw him and there is no doubt about his quality. Bevan Chikaka was part of the Zimbabwean squad which was involved in the match-fixing scandal, so I find no reason to say he (Mapeza) does not know them,” said Tshabalala.
Former Notwane midfielder Fabian Zulu also dismissed Mapeza’s statement saying that he should be ashamed of himself. Zulu said that most of the players who are plying their trade here are signed from the Premier League clubs in Zimbabwe.
“I think Mapeza is just being ignorant and I’m not surprised because I’ve played with him in the national team before. He just feels that Botswana League is of low standard and if you can look at his selection, he only focuses on three sides, CAPS United, Gunners and Dynamos,” said Zulu. He further added that when he was still playing for Notwane, he was called to the national team a couple of times though there was no television in Botswana at the time.
“Even Madinda (Ndlovu) when he was appointed head coach, he called Mandaza to the squad to show that he believes there are quality players here,” he said.