Peter backs captain Denver

ALEXANDRIA - Zimbabwe assistant coach Peter Ndlovu has backed new Warriors skipper Denver Mukamba to succeed in his new role but says the former Dynamos wizard must now exhibit exemplary conduct befitting a national captain.

The 21-year-old Bidvest Wits midfielder was appointed substantive national team captain after leading the Warriors to a 2-1 friendly international win over Botswana in February and will skipper the team for the first time in a competitive match when the Warriors resume their floundering World Cup qualification campaign against Egypt at Borgal Arab Stadium here on Tuesday night.

And Ndlovu, himself the most successful Warriors captain in history, says he has seen enough drive and leadership qualities in the lanky playmaker to suggest he will make a big impact.

“I’m gonna speak to him, just to let him know that its big business now and you have a big responsibility on your shoulders,” Ndlovu told reporters here yesterday.

“No more Popeye business. No more playing around. It start with a simple thing; calling for a team meeting and stuff, as young as he is. Also players around him should respect him. Also the older players must know that he is their captain and give him the respect he deserves. If he calls for a meeting and someone comes late, that’s a sign of disrespect. He (Mukamba) must have firm grip on things.

“He must also speak to the older players for advice and earn their respect. He is a great young boy who has a future. When I took over as captain I was also young, but I was guided.”

An inspirational Warriors captain at the peak of his international career, spearheading Zimbabwe to their maiden African Nations Cup finals in 2004, Ndlovu also called on Mukamba to lead from the front.

“He must be the difference,” Ndlovu, who turned 40 last month, said.

“So that when we speak, we must say ‘here is the skipper’. When we are down he must be the one to stand up. He is pure talent, he is willing to learn. He knocks on your room and asks for advice, because he is willing to learn.”

The Warriors are currently rebuilding under new head coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels following the completion of a match-fixing probe and failure to qualify for January’s Afcon finals in South Africa.

German Pagels named an inexperienced squad for Tuesday’s match, keeping faith in the next generation of Zimbabwean footballers in a major shake-up of the national side.

Ndlovu also backed his boss’s selection of the team, saying: “Yes, the drive is there, it just need to be overemphasised. With Klaus, what he is doing now is giving them self-belief. All you can say is (Partson) Jaure you are the best centre-back around, but do the simple things. It’s now for us to say there is talent, it’s there. What we can say to the players is ‘guys, express yourselves’. We can only say to them that when you have the ball destroy the opponent, when you don’t have it get it back.”

Meanwhile, Ndlovu expressed his satisfaction with the team’s options in attack ahead of the match.

“With the ability we have, we are likely to hurt a lot of opponents,” he said.

“We have the likes of Khama (Billiat), who can unlock any defence. Archie Gutu is one of the best midfielders we have around. Ovidy (Karuru) also sniffs around the box. He is one of the best players who attack the space left by the strikers from a midfield position. We also have great finishers, we all know Knowledge (Musona) can score and Rodreck (Mutuma), we all know his scoring record for Dynamos. Our strikers will walk the ball into the net because it will be there.”

The team’s versatility also gives Ndlovu hope. “We can put a totally different team and they will do the job.”

“The other thing is that the substitutes can come off the bench and fit well in any position.”

Windy and chilly weather has been the order of the day since the Warriors arrived here on Friday afternoon, raising concern that temperatures might fall further down on match day.

“I’m not a fan of complaining about the weather,” said Ndlovu. “You have to deal with what you have. It might affect us yes, but maybe 5 percent, not 100percent. Let us say at the end of the day that we defied the weather. You must adjust. The weather did not make the other team score. They also played against the weather. What we endured they also endured. You must refuse to be outdone.” - Enock Muchinjo in Egypt

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