By Langton Nyakwenda
Denver Mukamba has a feeling this could be his last chance with the national team and the rejuvenated midfielder wants to maximise on the latest opportunity he has been given by Warriors gaffer Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic.
The gifted player, who has been transformed at Ngezi Platinum Stars, was not in the initial squad for the upcoming African Nations Championships (CHAN) finals, but he immediately won Loga’s heart when the Warriors played the Mhondoro side in a practice match on Thursday.
Mukamba, who turns 28 on December 22, was at his usual menacing best when the Warriors drew 1-1 against Yadah in another practice match at the National Sports B Arena yesterday.
Yadah Stars’ new find Fortune Binzi (22), who has joined the club from Mutare City, scored a stunning goal before Wellington Taderera equalised for the Warriors.
However, the spotlight was once again on Mukamba, who lit up the practice match with his trademark deft touches and movement.
The Warriors looked threatening each time Mukamba was in possession and the 2012 Soccer Star of the Year was also deadly from set-pieces.
“It feels good to be back with the Warriors again,” Mukamba told The Sunday Mail Sport.
Mukamba’s last dance with the national team was back in 2013 when Klaus Dieter Pagels made him Warriors skipper.
That was before the Highfield-born star lost the plot. Allegations of alcohol, drug abuse and womanising were levelled against Mukamba, who also developed a knack for skipping training during his second stint with Dynamos, after his brief stay in South Africa. That led to a sensational fallout with then Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa.
Lloyd Chitembwe then brought Mukamba to CAPS United in 2018, but the strict disciplinarian failed to deal with the player’s truant behaviour.
Mukamba was given a lifeline when he joined Chapungu in 2019 and impressed under his juniors’ coach Rodwell Dhlakama, who was in charge of the Gweru-based Air Force of Zimbabwe side.
Dhlakama took him to Ngezi at the beginning of the year. He has now been given another chance to prove his mettle with the Warriors team that is heading to the CHAN finals in Cameroon in January.
Mukamba, a member of Madinda Ndlovu’s 2011 CHAN squad in Sudan, says he is now a “born again” player and has a bold message for Zimbabwean football fans.“Brace yourselves . . . the real Denver Mukamba is back and he means business,” he declared yesterday.
“It has been long since I last had a chance with the Warriors. This is another golden opportunity for me, I am getting older and I feel this could be my last chance to fight my way back into the national team set up. “The target is to do well and earn a place in the team that will travel to Cameroon for the CHAN finals. I now know the business and I am a changed guy. My club coach Dhlakama has been like a father to me. He has changed a lot of things in my life and I am now focused on reviving my career,” said the former DeMbare star.
Warriors coach Logarusic has been working with a provisional squad since camp began on Monday and the Croat is expected to come up with the final 23 on Sunday.
The Warriors play Dynamos and FC Platinum this week before the gaffer announces the travelling party. “We have been playing some local clubs to see if we can see some other players that we might have missed.
We discovered some new players and on Monday (tomorrow), we will include about four new players. From CAPS United we are going to take one or two players.
“I also observed some good players in today’s (yesterday) match. We will see how it goes,” said Logarusic. Some of the players who impressed for Yadah include dribbling wizard Issa Sadiki and the goal scorer Binzi, whose first-time control and ability to pack a powerful shot won him many admirers yesterday.
The former Mutare City striker could be a worthwhile find for Yadah coach Genesis Mangombe.
After relying on his assistants for the initial selection, Loga has benefited from the practice matches and the return to training of the Premiership clubs as he has had the opportunity to see for himself some of the fine talents his lieutenants had somehow overlooked. The Sunday Mail