It's good to be back: Mapeza

HARARE - FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is glad that he has finally recovered from a back surgery that had forced him to miss the first seven games of the 2018 Castle Lager Premiership season.

The former Warriors captain went under the knife to rectify the problem shortly after his team’s disappointing African Champions League campaign which ended in the preliminary round stage when they lost to Angolan side Club Desportivo Agosto in February.

As a result, Mapeza missed the Zvishavane-based side’s wins over ZPC Kariba, Bulawayo City, Chapungu, Harare City and Yadah FC together with the draw to CAPS United and last weekend’s defeat to Bulawayo Chiefs.

In his absence, assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe took temporary charge of the side but Mapeza returned to work early this week.

Mapeza will be in the dugout this afternoon when Pure Platinum Play travel to Vengere Stadium to face new boys Mutare City Rovers.

The former Warriors captain usually paces up and down the dugout but admitted he will be a bit reserved in these first few weeks.

“You know I’m back and it’s a great feeling but I’m not yet 100 percent fit,” Mapeza said ahead of today’s game.

“I need to move up and down in order to fully recover but so far so good, I cannot complain. I will just take a backseat and these guys will be doing most of the work.

“I thank God because I’m back and whatever people are going to say, I’m not going to care about it.”

Mapeza returns to find his side in third place on the log with 16 points and trailing early pacesetters Ngezi Platinum Stars by only three points.

“I think the team has done quite well in my absence. The message has always been that we need to keep on working hard,” he said.

“Nothing is going to change; because I’m here people might think that something is going to change.

“I’m not new to the system; the most important thing is for the team to keep on being consistent although we lost in our last encounter against Bulawayo Chiefs; it’s part of the game.

“I spoke to the technical team and they said, ‘look, we lost the game and there is no one to blame; we win as a team and we lose as a team’.”

The defending champions will have to find a way to adapt to the uneven playing surface at Vengere which does not suit their normal passing game.

“This week it was all about rectifying the mistakes the team made in the loss to Bulawayo Chiefs and on Saturday (today), we are going to play an away game on a difficult pitch,” Mapeza said.

“I think everyone knows the state of Vengere Stadium, I think everyone knows about our passing game and we have to adjust. It doesn’t mean that because we enjoy our passing game and we go to Vengere and try to force it so we know the options. As the technical team, I think we are ready for the game.”

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