Arriving at East24 Restaurant for a press conference on Thursday noon while walking with a slight limp, David “Yogi” Mandigora (DM) did not seem like a man ready for the pressure cooker job at Dynamos.
He appeared to be a man betrayed by ill-health.
This is a man replacing four-time championship winning coach Kalisto Pasuwa and faces the mammoth task of at least getting closer to matching his predecessor’s achievements.
The hard-to-please Dynamos fans often booed Pasuwa and his boys in the past four years where they bagged as many Premier Soccer League title and Yogi has lunged headfirst into the volatile Vietnam environment.
But he has tasted the waters before, even impressively guiding the Glamour Boys to the semi-finals of the African Champions League 2008, a high level of football Pasuwa never came nearer to reach.
Yogi spoke to Standardsport’s Michael Madyira (MM) on his return to the biggest job in club football in Zimbabwe.
MM: What made you accept the Dynamos job?
DM: That is a very difficult question. I have not been coaching for some years and I had taken a break. I enjoy coaching so this is just a challenge which I have given myself to see what I can do for a big club like Dynamos again.
MM: What is your impression of the current Dynamos squad?
DM: It is a good squad but I cannot talk about it right now because I understand some players have left. I will give a clear answer when I begin work. Right now we just have to look into the future and see what is going to happen.
MM: Despite the players who have left, are we going to see you making some changes?
DM: At the moment I cannot give you a correct answer because I do not know my requirements in the team at the moment. I am not sure which players will be available when I start work. It is too early to start talking about the changes I will make.
MM: How do you compare the 2008 crop of players you had and the current group?
DM: It is very difficult to compare. You cannot compare someone I worked with six years ago with a player of today because I have not worked with most of the current players. I have not been able to interact with them to note their strengths, weaknesses and mentality. It takes a lot of time to closely know a player so it is very difficult to compare at moment.
MM: What difference do you see between the 2008 working environment and the current one?
DM: Remember that time in 2008 our Zimbabwe Dollar had no value as we were facing serious money problems. Players were always complaining about money and it would affect our focus on the game at times. At the moment there is some stability because of the sponsorship so I think this time the environment is conducive.
MM: Do you think that can make your job a little bit easier?
DM: Yes it would but it also depends on the caliber of players I am going to be working with.
MM: You won the league title with Dynamos in 2007, how difficult was it to defend it the following season.
DM: It was not that difficult but you have to consider that the following season was hectic. We had to share attention between the Champions League and championship campaign, hence there was a lot of work to do. We ended up finishing second on the domestic front but we could have done better.
MM: When Pasuwa was at the Chan tournament in January, you were helping (Philemon) Mutyakureva. What did you see in the players?
DM: That was the beginning of the year which was a preparatory period. I was just there to assist the coaches who were there. Some of the players were new at the club and some are no longer there. But their attitude was good.
I did not work with them for a long time to be able to be honest and tell you how they were as individuals. It was just two weeks which is far much different from working with someone for two years.
MM: When are you beginning pre-season?
DM: I do not know. I will have to sit down with my technical team and executive to plan. At the moment I have lost touch with some of the things at the club because many things seem to have changed.
MM: Are there any particular players in the local league you are targeting?
DM: They are a few but I have to consult my assistants first. I cannot name the players at the moment.