HIS role model is four-time Ballon d’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
And there is evidently something so Ronaldo-like about him, not just the number seven shirt he dons for struggling Harare football giants Dynamos, but even his mannerism in the field of play.
Even at training, there is this aura of elegance and class about former Young Warriors forward Emmanuel Mandiranga.
The problem is unlike his idol Ronaldo, Mandiranga has been largely anonymous in performances as Dynamos continue to struggle to rescue a faltering league season.
Employed as a winger at Dynamos, the 22-year-old has been a pale shadow of the player whose dazzling performances helped the club finish runners-up in the league last season.
At his best, Mandiranga was called up by national team coach Sunday Chidzambwa to the Warriors squad ahead of the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) second leg qualifier at home to Namibia in July last year.
Hard-to-please Dynamos fans have been targeting him among other players who have been underperforming and even he is not pleased with his own performance.
“At the moment, I am not happy with my performances, but I am working hard to improve. I was hoping for the best season this year, but sadly I had an injury that kept me on the sidelines for three months,” Mandiranga told The Sports Hub after Thursday’s training ahead of today’s crunch encounter against Ngezi Platinum.
The Aces Youth Soccer Academy product is yet to open his goal-scoring account for the Glamour Boys since his return at the end of April, but he is hoping to hit a rich vein of form in the second half of the season.
But two matches into the corresponding fixtures, he has shown just but a few flashes of brilliance, obviously not enough to win Dynamos a football match.
Hopefully the match against Ngezi, the one he describes a “derby” match will be the beginning of new things.
“I am fit and confident now. I promise to be scoring goals like I was doing last season and help the team to be in a better position. We are working as a team to get ourselves out of the mess we are in.
“We are highly motivated for this match against Ngezi. Some of the players at Ngezi played for DeMbare so it’s more of a grudge match, a ‘derby’ of some sort and we are going to beat them,” he said.
As unbelievable as it may sound, Mandiranga is confident Dynamos can still go on to win the league title this season.
“The morale in the camp is very high now. Our target is to finish in top three, but we are not ruling out winning the league title because this is football, anything can happen. The quality we have in the squad is not questionable because the bulk of the players who were playing last year when we finished second are still here,” the former Motor Action, How Mine and Bulawayo City star said.
Dynamos were expected to challenge for the title this season, but they have since struggled to keep out of the relegation zone from day one.
Many a football fan believe that Mandiranga, who was part of the Young Warriors squad that featured the likes of Tino Kadewere, Teenage Hadebe, Wisdom Mutasa, John Takwara and Thomas Chideu among others, has failed to live up to his potential.
But he believes age is still on his side to achieve great things in his career.
One of his dreams growing up in Chitungwiza was to a play for big club like Dynamos.
“It was my dream to play for Dynamos. I grew up supporting Dynamos and I always thought I would never make the grade there and when the opportunity came, I grabbed it with both hands. I hope I will contribute a lot to the success of this big brand,” he said.
“The big dream for me is to play in Europe, specifically in England. I know it’s a tall order, but it’s possible. I still have age on my side so the sky is the limit and I am sure I will get there,” he added.
Of great interest is how Mandiranga decided he was going to become the Zimbabwe version of Portugal and Real Madrid legend CR7.
“Ronaldo has an influence on my career. Most of the things he does, even his lifestyle and training methods, I try to emulate. He is my role model, but it’s always difficult here in Africa to follow such a global superstar.
“The first time I played in the league I was given the number seven jersey and it has been my number ever since. In actual fact, my favourite number growing up was 17, but then number seven was imposed on me. And Ronaldo happened to be the best number seven I know in the world and I became his biggest admirer,” Mandiranga revealed.