BY HENRY MHARA
WARRIORS coach Norman Mapeza has imposed a smartphone ban on his players as he tries to foster discipline, team bonding as well as promoting unity within his camp as the team seeks to end the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers with a win.
Zimbabwe host Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium this afternoon in their final Group G encounter in search of their first win of the campaign.
Mapeza, who has not enjoyed the best of starts to life on his return to coaching the senior national men’s team after recording three straight defeats, says he wants his players to remain focused.
The players have been prohibited from using their cellphones and music gadgets in the dining room, on the team bus as well as at the training areas.
“We are dealing with players, who are coming from different cultures here. There are guys, who are coming from England, so at the end of the day, they need to bond with the others,” Mapeza said.
The only time that players are allowed to use their electronic gadgets is when they are in their rooms.
“I don’t want to see the guys carrying their cell phones coming for training. They have to interact in the bus because (for example) Bill Antonio wants to know how Galloway (Brendan) is doing in England. But if someone is on his phone, how are they going to interact? That is the team bonding that we are trying to bring in. I can see it is working and that is what we need in a team. It is very important for them to understand each other,” he added.
Zimbabwe has recorded four defeats and one draw in this qualifying campaign.
Mapeza is also using the games to prepare the team for the January Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
He has promised to ring the changes for today’s match as he continues to assess the players he might need for Cameroon next year.
From the team’s final training session conducted at the match venue yesterday morning, it seems there could be as many as five changes to the line-up that started against South Africa on Thursday.
Twenty-year-old Germany-based player Jonah Fabisch is likely to get his Warriors bow at long last.
The youngster has not featured for the team in the three previous times he has been called for duty.
Eighteen-year-old Prince Edward Upper Sixth student Bill Antonio, who played the last six minutes against Bafana Bafana, is also set for a start.
“We need to give some other guys a chance for them to get accustomed to what we want to do.
“It’s all about combinations, so we might have two changes in defence. We want to see how they are going to operate in terms of what we want to do.”
Godknows Murwira, goalkeeper Taimon Mvula and defender Alec Mudimu are some of the players who missed the Thursday game, but are likely to be thrown in today to stake their claims for a place to the Afcon finals.
“We are using the same system, which we used against South Africa, so I don’t think it will be difficult for those guys who are playing tomorrow. They don’t have any challenges in understanding what I want them to do. We need to push and try to win the game tomorrow,” Mapeza said.
The former Warriors skipper is expecting an improved performance from what he saw three days ago when Zimbabwe lost 1-0.
Warriors probable 11: T Mvula, G Murwira, A Mudimu, G Takwara, B Kangwa, J Fabisch, K Madzongwe, B Antonio, K Billiat, I Wadi, D Moyo