Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER Highlander coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu resumed training with his Botswana Premier Soccer League side Masitaoka Majatlhaga Football Club on Wednesday, cutting short their festive holidays.
Mpofu, who is in his first job outside Zimbabwe, having previously coached Kujatana, Railstars, Chicken Inn, Bulawayo City and Bantu Rovers has been in charge of nine league matches for Masitaoka.
They went into the festive break smarting from a 2-0 suffered at the hands of Botswana’s football champions Gaborone United on December 21.
Masitaoka, sixth on the table with 13 points from nine games, will face Extension Gunners when league games resume on January 7.
Mpofu, who spent a week in the country during the festive break, said he is refreshed and geared up for the Botswana challenge.
The former senior national team assistant gaffer and ex-Young Warriors coach said he is enjoying his stay at Masitaoka.
“Obviously moving to a new place, where the culture is different and the language is different is a challenge on its own but the football language is the same. My stay at Masitaoka has been exciting and challenging. Challenging in the sense that I’ve moved out of my comfort zone and I’ve to prove my worth.
“The working environment is marvelous, I’ve got a supporting management and a technical team that is united and players who are willing to learn.
“The targets that my bosses set are that we mustn’t be relegated and I have to use as many youngsters as possible. We’ve got a relatively young squad with an average age of 22 years. I’ve no problems in using young players as I’ve worked with the national youth teams, had numerous at Bantu Rovers and played them at my past clubs,” said Mpofu.
Losing to defending champions Gaborone United before the break was Mpofu’s first home defeat, having joined Masitaoka at the beginning of the season.
The former Highlanders coach has been in charge of nine league matches since moving to Botswana, winning four at home and losing once to Gaborone United. They’ve lost three games on the road and played to a single way draw – sharing spoils 1-1 with Mogoditshane Fighters.
Mpofu had hoped that their home wins against Security Systems (1-0), Holy Ghost (2-0), Police XI (2-0) and Botswana’s giants Township Rollers who they clobbered 3-0 last week would spur them for the Gaborone United encounter.
Of their victories, the Township Rollers’ was sweet as it was against the country’s giants.
About football standards in Botswana, Mpofu said: “Don’t be fooled that Botswana football standards are low, they’ve developed and their games are competitive.” – @ZililoR
Article Source: The Chronicle