Zimbabwe Castle Lager PSL 21-22: Some Talking Points as Benjani Mwaruwari Joins Madamburo

 By Tawanda Chari 

Mhondoro-based Premier Soccer League side Ngezi Platinum Stars parted ways with head coach Rodwell Dhlakama, ten days before the resumption of the 2021/2022 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League. The former Chapungu  (now the defunct Monomotapa) and National U-17 coach’s separation with Madamburo is unclear (he resigned from his position), with numerous theories being propounded for it.

Benjani Mwaruwari unveiling as new ngezi platinum stars coach zimbabwe castle lager premier soccer league 2021 2022 latest news zimsphere
Image credit - NewZimbabwe

Ngezi Platinum Stars appointed Warriors legend Benjani Mwaruwari on a 4-year deal that will see him take the reigns as the Madamburo head coach. Benjie is deputised by Bongani Mafu and Takesure Chiragwi (who was interim coach after Dhlakama left), while Tinashe Nengomasha will be the team manager.

Benjani is coming on for his first managerial/coaching gig (discounting his short stint as the Warriors assistant, a team headed by the infamous Zdravko Logarusic). He spent eleven years playing in Europe; eight of those in the English Premier League, including a 3-year spell for Manchester City. It's a gamble. Mwaruwari has no solid prior coaching experience. However, he has to start somewhere and Madamburo seems like a good place to start. His enthusiasm for a footballing managerial career is something worth noting.

Mwaruwari will have obviously picked up fundamental aspects from the coaching he received as a player and witnessed first-hand the shift in tactical nuance over the last two decades. He completed his UEFA A Licence in 2021 which is one level below the UEFA Pro Licence and allows holders to be head coaches of youth teams up to age 18, reserve teams (also known as 'B' teams) for top-flight clubs, as well as men's professional second-tier clubs.

Naturally, with such credentials, expectations for him to deliver are through the roof. But they shouldn't be. And here is why:

1. First ever coaching job. We know nothing about his quality as a coach.

2. We only know about his illustrious record as a player.

Benjani was a 1-Goal/Assist (G+A)-in-3-games striker, according to data from fbref. Which is average. He had good seasons in the 02-03 season for French Ligue 1 side Auxerre, with 0.60 (G+A) per 90 minutes and in 07-08 for Portsmouth with 0.64 (G+A) per 90 minutes. His 29 goals in 44 for Zimbabwe’s men’s national team - the Warriors -  averages 0.66 (G+A). Okay, so much for stats.

The key point is that if he can coach his strikers into 1-goal-every-2-games, like he did in 2008 for Portsmouth before Man City scooped him, Madamburo will be a good team. This is precisely the target that has been set for the new Ngezi Platinum Stars technical teams - playing “thrilling football”. At the minimum, he should be able to do that. That is the only metric he can be judged upon with right now.

In modern top flight football across the globe, four years is quite a bit of time.

The most important trait for Ngezi Platinum to have if they are looking for a manager to build a long term project, then there's one particular trait that he must have that's far more important than anything else - working with the club’s long-term vision and goals in mind; patience. Ditto Mapeza for FC Platinum. Or Klopp for Liverpool.

Because what matters most is a coach who builds something that can be sustained in the long term. This isn’t the cheap way of doing things. It is going to cost money, but more importantly, it is going to cost time. That’s why the most important trait Madamburo must have is patience.

No manager will ever be successful if he’s not backed by the club. Backing means giving Benjani the ability to see out his long term vision. Accept that you may need to have a rough season or two in order to win more often and sustainably down the road. Benjie also needs to not just have a plan but the patience to stick to that plan regardless of external and internal pressure. 

As long as the club do their part, then there won’t be any internal pressure; but the most salient thing is to remain patient regardless of any external pressure.

There’s always going to be external pressure. The media will always be impatient. They will play on that “it’s Ngezi, not winning should never happen” narrative that whips people into a frenetic sporting angst. There is always going to be pressure from the fans, because there will always be impatient fans. It is the fans who, after all, give football the consummate expression it needs for it teem with life; emotion/passion. There will always be fans who are nothing more than glory hunters. And well, that’s fine. It’s sport.

The most important trait Benjani Mwaruwari can have as the new Ngezi Platinum Stars coach is the ability to tune all that noise out, believe in his project and technical team, and , stay patient with it.

These guys are smart enough to know things aren’t going to happen overnight. If you don’t think you’ll be at a certain point until year three, don’t let a few results earlier on make you start to rush things.

Stay patient. This is a big job, it’s going to take a lot of work and require a lot of time. If they  lose patience and abandon the plan prematurely, they are just going to have to start over… again. 

As we are optimistic on what Benjani has to offer the Zimbabwe Castle Lager Premier Soccer League 2021-2022 season.

Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League latest news fixtures results venues 2021 - 2022

For, after all, it’s more than just a game. You can check out for Matchday 10 fixtures, venues, times, and TV info via this Three Men On A Boat link.

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