Ray Bande Senior Sports Reporter
DYNAMOS coach Lloyd “Samaita” Mutasa is not yet ready to declare his club as favourites for the 2017 Castle Lager Premiership title, but Sakubva-based former national team player and three-time Soccer Star of the Year finalist Shepherd “Dragline” Muradzikwa believes it is now or never for Mutasa.
Dynamos made a bold statement of the credentials to clinch the coveted title when they romped to victory in the 40th edition of the Harare Derby when Christian Epoupa Ntouba’s brace sunk Caps United on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium.
DeMbare face struggling Bosso in Harare on Sunday in their next league encounter.
Even though the result against CAPS United left some neutrals foreseeing the former Tanganda FC midfielder laying his hands on the coveted top-flight league championship silverware for the first time in his humble coaching career, Mutasa chose to remain modest about his chances of achieving the biggest accolade in domestic football circles.
“Not as yet, I am still sticking with what we said, one game at a time, we are facing another tough assignment against a good Highlanders side and after that match we can really know whether we can push for the championship,” Mutasa told our sister paper The Herald in a post-match interview on Sunday.
However, in a wide-ranging interview with Muradzika this week, the former Rio Tinto, Wankie and Arcadia star said Mutasa would win the league title this year.
Muradzikwa, whom many remember for his long-range stunner while on national duty against Namibia at the National Sports Stadium, said Mutasa had managed to assemble a group of youngsters who are in the game more for their careers than immediate monetary rewards.
In that great piece of football artistry, Muradzikwa received what appeared to be a harmless ball straight from the then Warriors goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar, which he chested down right in the middle of the park, subtracted a marker before spotting that the goalkeeper was off his line and was not even expecting Muradzikwa to shoot.
Muradzikwa took advantage of that lapse in concentration, moved one step from the centre circle before unleashing a thunderbolt that found its target in the far top corner.
“I think it is this year or never for Lloyd Mutasa. He has come a long way as a coach and I believe he is one of the best coaches that this country has ever produced.
“He might not have had the luck before, but I foresee him winning the league title this year. Mutasa has managed to assemble a group of youngsters who are in the game more for their careers than immediate monetary rewards.
“The body language speaks for itself when they are on the field of play. I have no doubt that Dynamos will win the title.
“Yes, it will not be an easy thing to do. There are other teams fighting hard for the same accolade, but judging from their recent previous matches I think the current Dynamos squad has the nerve,” said Muradzikwa, who only played with Mutasa as opponents when he was at Arcadia while the later was at Dynamos.
Born on February 6, 1967 in Mutare, Muradzikwa did his primary education at Zamba Primary School in the heart of Sakubva before proceeding to Elise Gled-hill having started playing football at the age of eight.
Muradzikwa, whose coaching career has not been an immediate success story just like his playing career, has attained a CAF C coaching badge and is looking forward to doing CAF B and CAF A this year.
To his credit he has played a part in moulding players such as Valentine Ndaba, Roderick Mutuma and Dennis Dauda among many others.
“I now have a CAF C Coaching Badge and I am looking forward to do CAF B and CAF A this year. I am getting assistance from my family to do that and by next year I hope I will be able to take my coaching career to another level.
“I have coached at Chiredzi United in Division One which was formerly known as South East Athletico. I also coached FC Three Leaves in Chipinge, which was also in Division One.
“I did the same at Sporting Manhenge in Bindura where I worked with players such as Valentine Ndaba and Roderick Mutuma just before we released them to Dynamos and Dennis Dauda before he went to ZPC Kariba,” he said.
Muradzikwa was doing Form Two when he joined Tanganda FC, which was in Division Two by then, before being lured to join British Leyland, a football team which was bankrolled by a motor assembling company and played in Division One.
In 1985, Air Force, now Chapungu, got promoted into the then Super League and Muradzikwa and his friends had a chance to play against the team that was preparing for life in the league the following year.
“When we went for trials, I was the only one who was recommended by Air Marshal Perrance Shiri. But my friends discouraged me from becoming a soldier, so we left.”
While they were still pondering their next move, the idea of trying their luck at Hwange came up.
“This is when my football career started. I was picked by the then Wankie coach, Paul Moyo, and before long I was selected into the national Under-20 team under the guidance of Peter Nyama,” he said.
“In 1987, I moved from Wankie to Rio Tinto after John Rugg bought me from Wankie,” he added. In 1988, Muradzikwa was one of the country’s best 11 players, repeating the same feat in 1992 as well as 1996.
Muradzikwa played for Rio Tinto until 1995, before linking up with Rugg at Arcadia United which reached the finals of the BP Cup in 1996, where he was voted player of the competition as well as top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals.
However, Arcadia were relegated in 2000. On the national team front, Muradzikwa does not remember how many times he turned out for the national team.
“The only thing I remember are my best matches, home and away. My best performance in Warriors colours was against Ghana in Accra.
“I was told to follow up on Abedi Pele and I did it to the letter. I remember I was so excited that I scored another surprise goal right from the centre and Pele was the first person to congratulate me. ‘That was a great goal mate’ Pele said, and you know when you get such a compliment from an icon of Pele’s calibre,” he said.
Muradzikwa, who turned 50 in February this year, is happily married and blessed with two daughters – Doris (30) and Hazel (26).