IN the 15 years that he has been a coach, Lloyd Mutasa has continuously proved that he is good at building and improving teams but curiously he has never stuck around to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
Case in point is the Dynamos project he started in 2011 that went on to win the league title four times in a row. However he was the one to then understudy Kalisto Pasuwa, who was to remarkably preside over all the triumphs.
He has coached Sporting Lions, Kiglon, Highway, Shooting Stars, FC Platinum and Dynamos but has never won the league championship.
But after surviving several ultimatums in the last 16 months in one of the hottest seats in local football and starting the season with a depleted new look side, it appears the football gods could finally smile at him.
No one gave him a chance at the start of the season, but Mutasa is now in a strong position to take the honours this year. Dynamos is sitting in third place, three points behind leaders Chicken Inn with two games in hand ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
“Every coach would want to win the league, and to be recognised as the best on the land at some point. And also to go beyond the borders. Just as players aspire to go to Europe, as coaches we also aspire to get (foreign assignments),” the soft-spoken gaffer told Sports World in an interview on Friday.
Mutasa is so soft-spoken that many of his peers during his playing days would mock his demeanour and declared that he would never be a coach, let alone a good one.
Thinking back, Mutasa feels that he has done well, in the process confounding the critics who doubted his aptitude.
“Most of my peers during my playing days would taunt me saying I could never be a good coach because I am too quiet. But I never bought into it because I always talk when there is need to talk and I am quiet when there is no need to talk. And my record as a coach speaks volumes,” he said.
Speaking of records, many a football fan agree that Mutasa is good at building strong teams but never sticks around to enjoy the success.
He does not dispute the assertion.
“Sometimes people see better than me and it could be true because there is a record to support those views. I remember when I went to Flame Lily; they became a force to challenge for honours in Division One.
“I also went to Dynamos and without taking anything from Kalisto Pasuwa, after I left they went on to win the league four times in a row. FC Platinum, I took them to fourth place and the season I left they came close to winning the league. I think it’s just something which is in me,” he said.
Since he took over from the eccentric Portuguese coach Paulo Jorge Silva last year, Mutasa has survived ultimatum after ultimatum from the Dynamos board.
Interestingly, he has never been able to meet any of the targets set for him, but he still survived. The club no doubt is happy with the decision not to fire Mutasa.
“It has been tough going through this building process. When you are at Dynamos, it becomes more difficult because the fans want to win regardless of the current state of things.
“To build a good team when half of the team is new to the system would take at least six months but at Dynamos you cannot have that comfort, you just have to win while you build. I have had to sit down with all the players and told them what this institution is all about and what it is to wear that jersey,” the 50-year-old former midfielder said.
And to achieve what he has managed to this season, he simply had to employ old age tricks he learned from his mentor Sunday Chidzambwa.
“Nothing beats the basics is what my mentor Chidzambwa would always say. You just need to acquaint the youngsters with the basics, especially when you are working with a completely new team.
“I knew that if we worked on basics, we would eventually become a force to reckon with and from the onset we always wanted to do better than yesterday and that is how we got to be where we are,” he said.
Mutasa’s next fixture, which is against CAPS United in the first installment of the big Harare derby, will be an important pointer for Dynamos’ title credentials.
He shared his opinion on the derby that he also played in during his heydays.
“The Harare derby always carried the element of wanting to show the world who is who. Back in the day Stewart Murisa, Lloyd Chitembwe, Edelbert Dinha, all from Chitungwiza, played for Caps; Pasuwa and myself, played for Dynamos and we always wanted to topple each other so that we would have the bragging rights,” he said.
In a trade where stories of juju to win games are rife, we asked for his views but Mutasa distanced himself from this practice, professing his belief in God and hard work.
“To be fair and frank, we went through a lot as players back in the days, even as coaches. But I was raised up as a Christian in the Anglican church. I don’t believe in juju but I believe in working hard. I believe that talent is God-given and hard work is needed to nurture it,” Mutasa said.
Football runs in Mutasa’s family. He is related to football legends such as Alois Godzi, the late great Archford Chimutanda as well as Butler Masango.
Mutasa himself had a successful football career whose highest point was playing in the Caf Champions League with Dynamos in 1998.
In his first coaching job together with Joe Mugabe, at Sporting Lions, they achieved a remarkable turnaround as the team stared relegation in 2002. They won nine of the last 15 games they were in charge of.
He has so far won the Swaziland Cup with Green Mambas, the Cosafa Under 17 gold medal as Rodwell Dhlakama’s assistant as well as a Cosafa Castle Cup runners-up medal as Klaus Dieter Pagels’ understudy in 2013. This year he won the Cosafa Castle Cup as Chidzambwa’s assistant.
Will 2017 be the year he gets the big one? Only time will tell.