FORMER Warriors forward Lazarus “Mali” Muhoni has hailed Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambga as a doyen of coaching who drew the best out of seemingly average players despite the fact that he was widely criticised as an old school coach.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Chidzambga, arguably the most successful football coach to emerge from this country, announced his retirement from coaching on Wednesday, ending an illustrious 36-year-long career on the touchline.
Last year Chidzambga quit the Warriors job following a forgettable campaign at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals held in Egypt, in which Zimbabwe crashed out in the group stages.
Nevertheless, the 67-year-old coach’s name will forever be engraved in Zimbabwean football folklore in light of his numerous achievements.
Muhoni is one of the most underrated players given the opportunity to shine by Chidzambga during the 2004 Afcon qualification campaign up to the finals.
It was during this campaign that Muhoni got the nickname ‘Mali’ after he scored the solitary goal against West Africans Mali at the National Sports Stadium to begin a historic quest.
The former Dynamos and Black Rhinos star was part of the Warriors squad to make the historic maiden appearance at the 2004 Afcon finals in Tunisia.
Muhoni told Standardsport in an interview that the veteran gaffer had supreme ability to perfect Zimbabwean players and get the best out of them.
“Mhofu had confidence in me and most of the players he had when we even did not have confidence in ourselves,” said Muhoni.
“I remember when I was called up for the first time to the national team, some people felt I was not good enough, but he told me to cool down and enjoy the experience.
“It was breathtaking and I really enjoyed every bit of it. He perfected us to be better players, to even help us reach the levels we had only been dreaming about.
“It was not only me, but many benefited from his shrewdness and that alone needs to be appreciated,” Muhoni said.
Mhofu took the Warriors to the prestigious Afcon finals for the first time in 2004 while also leading them to the 2019 edition in Egypt less than a year ago.
He won five Cosafa Cups while he had a number of domestic championships with Harare giants Dynamos.
The veteran coach reached the CAF Champions League finals with Dynamos in 1998, a stage which he only managed as a coach.
The other coach, who came closest to achieve this feat was David Mandigora, who reached the semi-finals with Dynamos in 2008.
Ahead of the Afcon finals last May, Chidzambga told this publication of his desire to retire after guiding Zimbabwe to the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
“My dream is to coach at the World Cup before I retire. Every coach wants to go there in their career and I believe I can achieve this dream with the team that we have now,” Chidzambga said in an exclusive interview.
“I am left with a maximum of two years in this football coaching business, I don’t think I can go further than that, but we will see what happens.”
And after parting ways with the Warriors a few months later, Mhofu has decided to call it quits before the two years have passed.