Innocent Mapuranga keen to play on

HIGHLANDERS captain Innocent Mapuranga’s moniker is “Durawall” for his impermeability in the heart of defence.

BY ALBERT MARUFU

Nevertheless, many will recall one afternoon when former Harare City winger Silas Songani made a mockery of the moniker, turning the durawall into a loose plain wire.

Songani might have been lost to the cold weather of Europe where he is now playing for Danish Superliga side Sonderjyske, but memories of him leaving Mapuranga sprawling on the ground on his way to scoring a memorable goal in a 4-0 rout still linger in many fans’ memories.

That brought a reality check on Bosso fans and management, that at 36, their captain’s pair of legs might be in urgent need of a replacement.
However, Mapuranga, who turn-ed 37 on January 1 and is probably one of the oldest players in the Premiership, is not ready to throw in the towel.

He is also unfazed by his side’s recent signing of his seemingly heir apparent Felix Chindungwe.

Moreso, Songani, who exposed him as a mere mortal, is not even among the toughest opponents that Mapuranga has faced. Instead; former CAPS United strikers Brian Badza and Leonard Tsipa fill that space.

“I will play until my body doesn’t allow me to run. Chindungwe is not a threat. He is just bringing in competition,” said the steely defender.

Chindungwe, who can also play as an anchorman, is not the only one that Mapuranga has to contend with in defence as there are also the versatile Erick “Tsiba” Mudzingwa and Dumisani “Fazo” Ndlovu.

While he has been successful at a personal level since joining Bosso at an already advanced age of 32 in 2009, it is the desire to win the championship with Highlanders that keeps him in the game.

The five years that the former Railstars player has been on Highlanders books have been quite phenomenal as they saw him earning his first national team call up at the age of 35 in 2012 in a friendly match against Zambia.

He was also among the Soccer Stars of the Year finalists that year.
“I want to win everything with Highlanders. Winning the Mbada Diamonds Cup was fine, but losing the championship twice on goal difference was disappointing,” he said.

For this reason, Mapuranga is not prepared to quit. In fact, he believes he still has a lot to learn.

“I want to learn as much as I can from the game before I retire,” said the Zifa Level Two coaching certificate holder.

He also believes that the stable marriage he enjoys with his wife of nine years — Lillian — contributes a lot to his continued stay in the game.

“My wife plays a big role in my career. I understand her very well. If she tells me that I am not playing well, I try hard to raise my game,” said Mapuranga.

He also does not see himself in the structures of any club other than Highlanders, even after retiring from playing.

“I want to be involved with the development of junior players at Highlanders when my playing days come to an end,” he said.

While Mapuranga’s wish to win the championship with Bosso may be a noble idea, is it not time for him to start taking coaching seriously, considering his age?

Soccer fans easily forget and one mistake can erase all the good that one would have worked for.

Maybe he should take a cue from the saying, Nhambe tambe inoregwa ichanaka. (Stop the game while it is still fun).

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