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Lloyd Mutasa — a man with blue blood

Former Dynamos midfielder and coach Lloyd “Samaita” Mutasa says he still has some unfinished business with the Glamour Boys and would not hesitate to take the hot seat at the Premiership football giants if another opportunity opens up for him to do so.

Lloyd Mutasa
Lloyd Mutasa

Mutasa, one of the most decorated Dynamos sons, has been hired and fired several times as the head coach of DeMbare but he said in an interview with former CAPS United defender-turned-football-pundit David Maketo-Sengu that he harbours no ill-feelings towards the Harare giants and the club will always be his home since his “blood is blue”.

The former skillful midfielder also revealed that his best product as a coach is Denver Mukamba and to him the former Warriors captain would have surpassed the likes of Khama Billiat if he had received proper guidance in his controversial career.

Mutasa played competitive football from 1978 up to 2004 (26 years) and half of those years as a junior player in unfashionable Division One while the other 13 years were spent in the Premier Soccer League, playing for a number of clubs including his beloved Dynamos and the now defunct Mutare-based side Tanganda.

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Mutasa said in his first five years as a footballer and his last year in the PSL, he was coached by only four people without the “blue blood” of Dynamos, namely Never Gombera, Zanamwe (Black Santos juniors), Casper Mukara (KTS juniors) and Joe “kode” Mugabe (Sporting Lions) while Daniel “Dhidhidhi” Ncube, Kuda Muchemeyi, David Madondo, Sunday Chidzambwa, Moses Chunga, David George and Misheck Chidzambwa took charge of him for the other 20 years.

He got his first junior football medal when he played throughout the country in the Chibuku Cup in 1983 and later on got his first senior medal in the PSL 10 years later and coincidentally in a Delta Beverages-sponsored Castle Cup in 1993.

Mutasa scored in all rounds from first to the last final game of the Castle Cup in that year (1993). He played for the senior national team in his first year in the PSL in 1990 in the Cecafa tournament in Zanzibar under Ghanaian coach Ben Koufie.

He was the second highest top scorer in the 1994 season with 19 goals, two less than the eventual winner Vitalis Takawira. He was among the 11 Soccer Stars of the Year finalists twice in 1994 and 1996, coming as a second runner-up to Stewart Murisa and Alois Bunjira.

Mutasa scored 76 goals in his first four years with Dynamos from 1995 to 1998 and no consolation goal during that era, meaning that for the first four years, every time he scored, Dynamos never lost a match and the worst was a draw. He was one of the players up to date to feature for the only Zimbabwean team to reach the CAF Champions League final in 1998.

And here Mutasa (LM) goes down memory lane with Maketo-Sengu (DSM), talking about the start of his football career in Chitungwiza and how he ended up being coach at both junior and senior level:

DSM: Tell us about your football journey… Where it started from tender age?

LM: I started my junior football as a primary school pupil at Zengeza Primary School and played in the first team when I was in Grade 5 when I was spotted by Never Gombera who was coaching a local side, Zanamwe Black Santos, and he enrolled me in the Under-10s way back in 1978 or 1980.

DSM: From Under-10s to 18 you were still with Black Santos?

LM: No, when I was 12, I joined KTS Rovers (Kunaka Trading Stores) where I went on to collect my first national medal in the Chibuku Under-14 Cup in 1983 after beating Triangle at Rufaro Stadium and repeated the same feat the following year (1984) by beating Amaveni Tigers of KweKwe, and it was during the second final where the then Dynamos manager David Madondo invited me to Dynamos Under-18s. I joined them in mid-1984 and played first with the likes of Nhamo Mangwiro then came Simon Chuma and Memory Mucherahohwa, among others, and then I was promoted to the reserve side at the end of the 1985 season.

At KTS notable players I played with who then played in the Premier Soccer League are Raphael Kaondera, Ralph Kaondera, Gift Mudangwe and Frank “Kojak” Jaison.

DSM: Tell us about your coaching journey: 1. Who inspired you to take up coaching? 2. Tell us about the man Paolo Silva, you were together in the dug-out at Dynamos. 3. What was your preferred partnership in the Dynamos midfield and the striker you always wanted in the team. 4. Who is your best product as a coach?

LM: When I was about to call it quits in 2001, Simon Makaza, who was then the Dynamos chairman encouraged me to go for a coaching course and paid for my bills and I got my Level One (coaching certificate) in 2002 and mid-season of that year we were taken by Mr (Nelson) Matongorere to go and play for his team Sporting Lions but unfortunately in mid-season he was axed and Joe Mugabe and myself were roped in to take over the reins since the bosses thought the team will be relegated but luckily we managed to survive the axe and I was assisting “Mr Kode from Mabvuku” Mugabe.

From Sporting Lions I then went on to coach Flame Lily after being axed at Lions in 2003 and I held that position till 2006 and I then later on joined Kiglon, Highway, Shooting Stars. I then came back to Kiglon then Dynamos, went to Swaziland and came to Zimbabwe back after (German coach) Dieter Pagels wanted to be assisted in 2013 then I had stints at FC Platinum, WhaWha before coming back to Dynamos and lastly TelOne last year but in-between I had stints with our Zimbabwe Under-17 side and the senior national team as an assistant coach.

Paolo Silva was another character (and was) too difficult to control but he loved his football.

Memory Mucherahohwa and Kalisto Pasuwa are the midfield partnership I would prefer and up-front I will go with Tauya Murehwa and Vitalis Takawira . . . that’s just but what I wanted most.

My best product as a coach is Denver Mukamba. To me I think everything being equal he would surpass the likes of such greats like Khama Billiat.

DSM: Lodza you were a marvel to watch and were you invited for trials abroad or did you ever play beyond the borders in your career? How much influence did Memo (Mucherahowa) had in the dressing room as a captain, I ask this because many believe had he not been head-butted (in CAF Champions League final) against Asec (Mimosa), DeMbare would have gone on to lift the big trophy and can you tell us what really transpired in the tunnel before that final against Asec?

LM: I was invited (for trials) in South Africa by D’Alberton Callies in Durban at the end of the 1992 season when the owners of (my club then) Tanganda felt they could no longer sponsor the team because of drought and (South African coach) Gordon Igesund was impressed with me and when I was on the verge to be signed by his club, Tanganda made a U-turn and that’s how I lost it, but my team-mate Nelson Bandura had already been signed by Mamelodi Sundowns.

I was with fellow Zimbabwean player Carlos Max at D’Alberton Callies during my trial period there. Memory Mucherahowa was the engine of the team, very workaholic and barking precise instructions on the pitch (like an assistant coach). In short, it was the normal rule that stipulates that teams should warm-up in their half and unfortunately our own player Kalisto (Pasuwa) violated that when he went on to try and pick a stray ball in their (Mimosa’s) area and for a team that had lost the previous final to Orlando Pirates the previous year in 1997, they were dirty in all aspects and wanted the cup no matter what it takes as the brutality started well on the entry points as (goalkeeper) Peter Fanwell was head-butted too but the officials ignored it.

DSM: You used to work with Pasuwa now you are no longer working together. Is there any bad blood between the two of you?

LM: Am sure (there’s) no bad blood (between the two of us). We worked well together and when Mana (Pasuwa) saw it fit that he could handle the pressure on his own, he decided to take his own route and his record speaks volumes of how prepared he was to be a head coach.

DSM: Cut my hand and it bleeds blue. Once a Dynamos son always a Dynamos son. Looks like almost all Dynamos sons in the coaching business, yourself included, are always linked with a return to the club inspite of previous frustrations. What’s the secret? What is this magnetic pull or spell that this club has over its former players?

LM: If the truth be told I am where I am today because of having been a member of that blue family hence you wouldn’t want the blue team to go down and as such more often than not you would want to do it for the next generation than anything else.

DSM: Talent has been perceived as non-hereditary. We have seen this even in musical circles. But you are lucky to have sons who take after you. Who do you tip to scale your dizzy heights?

LM: Well they seem to have been nurtured well by the Aces Youth Academy and I wouldn’t want to single out one but am saying they all have it in them and it’s gonna go to he who wants it the most, as long as they realise that discipline, dedication and determination are the key components to excel.

DSM: You played for one year in 1986 in the Dynamos first team and then moved to Green Buffaloes from 1987 to 1989, what made you move away from Dynamos and ended up at Green Buffaloes and Tanganda?

LM: During that era, in 1986 that was when the (Dynamos) midfield had the likes of Kenneth Jere, David Mandigora and Biggie Zuze, amongst others, and my (slim) body as well was a disadvantage and the influence of David Madondo, who left Dynamos for Green Buffaloes, told me that it was wise for me to go and get some game-time elsewhere and come back when I am ready for the big boys and gave examples to the likes of Clayton Munemo who went to Ziscosteel and came back to Dynamos and I took the advice.

DSM: Noting that you have had a career spanning some good years, what has been your experience with different ZIFA leadership with particular attention to the current one, the way football business is being run and how do you see the future of Zimbabwean football?

LM: I think the problem with our leadership is that we are not learning from the past mistakes, we keep on repeating the same mistakes of doing things at the last hour and we don’t want to invest in players and coaches but quick to want results. As business people, they should be aware that no investment, no returns.

DSM: Some people have perceived you as an “unlucky” coach who plays eye-catching football without the results. Your response? Do you believe in luck?

LM: Well, luck has to be there as well but am sure time is key and what gives one satisfaction as a coach counts most, I might not have won as many accolades as people might perceive as good coaching but I also want to believe that the enhancement of players from one level to the next is more important too.

DSM: Father, you coached in Eswatini, Green Mamba to be precise, share us your glorious moments from that tenure.

LM: I went there late 2011 season. They were left with nine league games and a Swazi bank competition to play. In those entire matches I won seven of the nine and drew two; and took the team from the second round (of the cup competition) to the finals, winning that cup which qualifies a team to play in the CAF Confederation Cup just like our Chibuku Super Cup and I had two Zimbabweans in my team — goalkeeper Zondai Nyaungwa and Stanford Ncube, formerly of Njube Sundowns — and that helped me to settle quickly.

DSM: Samaita looking at your playing history which stage of development that shaped your playing career and all the things we saw you doing, were they rehearsed or you just performed the skills from your head or looking at the situation?

LM: I would like to say that the junior stage is the foundation of success then somehow some of the things I did, I did them looking the situation. (I think it was a God-given gift) intellectual intelligence.

DSM: There is a general outcry that our standards (of football) in Zimbabwe are on a free-fall. What do you think as a coach is contributing to the downward trend in the standards of on the field displays?

LM: I think the majority (of the players) are not creative enough or it’s us (coaches) who are not giving them freedom of expression in areas that they must play and the majority of us priorities winning than anything else hence taking the excitement from the game.

DSM: The passing or the set-pieces, what part of your game do you cherish more, in retrospect?

LM: The passing comes first though here and there (my) set-pieces were so good.

DSM: Who was your best coach during your time as a player and why?

LM: Sunday (Marimo) Chidzambwa and David Madondo, they are inseparable. They gave me the freedom to express myself and could be hard on me when am not up there so as to keep up there.

DSM: How difficult or easy was it to coach your biological son? From your own perspective is Wisdom on the right path?

LM: It was easy because you know how to control him but hard when he is not playing well because critics will always think of favouritism than professionalism in me. I think for now the boy has learnt his lessons and is now mending himself back and away from Harare.

DSM: What advice can a father give to upcoming players? Given the chance to serve the country, in which capacity would he choose and why? Looking back into his career, given the chance what would he change? Memorable games ie the best and worst as a player and coach?

LM: Discipline, hardwork and humbleness is the key. I would prefer coaching because I have learnt a lot from my seniors, especially Pagels, Matongorere and Sunday Chidzambwa. As for my memorable game as a player, I think the 1993 cup final with Tanganda and as a coach beating UMS Alger 4-1 in the Champions League at Rufaro in 2011. My worst game was the 3-3 draw against CAPS United in 2016 and losing to Shabanie in a cup final.

DSM: Coach Samaita, if I can take you back when you coached Flame Lily, you came to Kariba and played ZPC Kariba and you were 2-0 down and later squeezed a draw in the last minutes, ending 2-2. After the game you shed some tears, were they tears of joy or disappointment, considering ZPC Kariba are a stubborn side at their home ground?

LM: (They were) Tears of joy mate, but you know we were chasing the league title and officials from that end were a bit biased towards their team.

DSM: Is there any team which you think if given another opportunity you wish to go back there and coach again?

LM: In football you never say never, but my top three is TelOne, Dynamos and FC platinum . . . I can have a repeat series there.

DSM: Samaita can I have your best 11 combined Dynamos and Tanganda side?

LM: 4-4-2 formation — 1. Gift Muzadzi, 2. Kalisto Pasuwa, 3. Claudius Zviripayi, 4. Mavhuna Mudare, 5. Kaitano Tembo, 6. Memory Mucherahohwa, 7. Johnson Mbaradza, 8. Joseph Takaringofa, 9. Vitalis Takawira, 10. Lloyd Mutasa, 11. Tauya Murehwa. The Herald