Kapini speaks of agony

HARARE - Zimbabwe football captain and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini says he is gutted to miss the Warriors’ 2013 African Nations Cup second leg qualifier against Angola next month due to injury.

Kapini, who plays for South African Premiership side AmaZulu, injured his left ankle in training with his club late last month.

Despite not being 100 percent fit, Kapini put his body on the line and made himself available for the Warriors in the first leg against Angola two weeks ago, which ended 3-1 in favour of the home team.

The former Black Aces and Highlanders shot stopper aggravated the injury during the Angola match before he was replaced by Ariel Sibanda after 63 minutes.

Kapini underwent surgery to correct the damaged ankle and is likely to be sidelined for the next four months.

“It’s really painful because this is the first time I have had such a long injury lay-off in my career,” Kapini told the Daily News from his Durban base yesterday.

“The longest period I have been out was two weeks and this injury has come at a bad time for me. For me football is a God-given talent and to be denied an opportunity to play due to an injury is really frustrating.

“It will be a good feeling for me as captain of Zimbabwe if the team qualifies for the Afcon finals in South Africa. I would have followed the footsteps of the great Peter Ndlovu, who led Zimbabwe to two Afcon finals.”

The Warriors are also likely to be without Kapini’s deputy Marlon Jani, who strained both hamstrings before the first leg against Angola.      

“We were both injured at the same crucial time when Zimbabwe needed us to be fit, it’s strange,” Kapini said.

“Marlon is one of the good goalkeepers we have in Zimbabwe and if he was fit, he would have done a good job because he communicates with his defenders very well and he has the necessary experience.”
Yesterday Kapini watched his team mates train at Moses Mabhida Stadium, his right leg strapped in a plaster and heavily bandaged.

Next Wednesday, Kapini is scheduled to meet his surgeon to remove the bandages on the ankle.

Initially, Kapini was ruled out for four months, but the Warriors skipper is keeping his fingers crossed that the surgeon might give him some positives news.

“This is my first week after the operation and next Wednesday I’m returning to the doctor for my first review,” Kapini said.

“I’m not yet sure what they are going to tell me, but I’m just hoping that I won’t be out for a very long time.”

Turning to the Warriors final qualifying hurdle against the Palancas Negras, Kapini said: “It’s one of those games that I would have prepared for thoroughly if I was not injured because Angola are a good side at home,” he said.

“You could see in the first leg that they came at us very dangerously especially after Manucho was introduced in the second half. They are going to attack us from the first whistle until the end and if we are to qualify, we need to keep a clean sheet there.”

The Usuthu goalkeeper has words of advice to the Warriors coaches.

“I know I’m not a coach, but I think someone like Ephraim Mazarura will be a good addition to the national team during this crucial time,” says Kapini.

“He’s playing very well in Swaziland and we need someone with his experience and big frame in Angola.
“Don’t’ get me wrong, I have confidence in the other goalkeepers, Ariel Sibanda and George Chigova. They are very good goalkeepers but this is a big game.

“Throwing these young lads into the fray of such a big game might expose them because Angola will be very physical.”

After all is said and done, Kapini believes Zimbabwe have a good opportunity to qualify for Africa’s premier football showcase after three failed attempts in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

“I believe in this team that we have and also the coaches, led by Rahman Gumbo,” he said. “I know a lot of people still think that Norman Mapeza should get back the job, but I have worked with Rahman well and all he needs is support from everyone and the team can do well.”

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