By Ray Bande
Chipinge-born Dynamos legend, Lovemore ‘Thula’ Mapuya — whose historic Class of 98 squad reached the CAF Champions League semi-final under David ‘Yogi’ Mandigora — says the former DeMbare gaffer was a cool-headed father figure who signed his first passport papers at the age of 14.
Mapuya, arguably the best player to emerge from the small farming town since independence, played under the tutelage of the late gaffer both at national Under-17 level as well as at Dynamos in the domestic top-flight league.
Memories of the late Mandigora are filled with nostalgia for Mapuya, who relives the fatherly role the late former Dynamos coach played in the formative and later part of his career.
The 1980 Soccer Star of the Year, who distinguished himself both as a brilliant player and shrewd coach, died at the age of 64 and was laid to rest at Glen Forest Memorial Park in Harare on Tuesday.
“It is really sad that we have lost such a fatherly figure in the domestic football fraternity.
“He was my Under-17 national team coach in 1994 along with Steve ‘Dude’ Kwashi, Ali ‘Baba’ Dube and Loyd ‘Mablanyo’ Chigove. I reunited with him at Dynamos in 2006 after my five years stint with Motor Action and things were not difficult for me at Dynamos.
“What I remember the most about Yogi is that he is the one who signed my first passport as a guardian. He was such a cool guy who was always willing to assist,” said the former Motor Action defence lynchpin.
“He was a cool guy, he had no time for arguments with the players, club executive members or his technical department colleagues. After my contract expired at Motor Action, I was not happy with Eric Rosen’s offer so I went to join Dynamos and at that time it was more like a new team. DeMbare were rebuilding because all their players had left for the now defunct Shooting Stars.”
Mapuya recalls how Mandigora readily accepted him in the Dynamos set up.
“So when Yogi saw me at Raylton Sport Club, at first he thought I had gone there just to see him, but when I told him I had come to join Dynamos, he could not believe it. The man was so happy and went on to help me with the clearances.
“I really enjoyed my time at DeMbare especially under Mandigora and David George,” said the former Gaza High pupil.
The late Mandigora is one of the legends of domestic football who happens to be one of the two coaches to guide a Zimbabwean team as far as the semi-finals of the Champions League, with his former teammate, Sunday Chidzambwa having blazed the trail during the 1998 edition of the same competition. The Manica Post