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Just about everyone, including Prophet Magaya, believes he is a very good coach

Prophet Magaya

Robson Sharuko on Saturday
TO say he was walking would be an understatement, he was probably staggering, consumed by his pain, distracted by his fears and blinded by his monumental loss.

His aides ensured he would not stagger alone, his giant frame dwarfing them all, his head lowered, his face a dark replica of its usual brightness, his enduring pain written all over it.

He came to where I was seated, embraced me so tightly, I could even feel his heart pounding from his grief.

He probably wanted to say something, anything, but the words just couldn’t come out.

Life has transformed Prophet Walter Magaya into this very powerful man, his mere presence alone sends those who believe in the power of his prayers and the strength of his healing sessions into hysteria.

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But, death had now transformed him into this powerless man, lost in the mist of the emotional wreckage that was tearing him apart, devouring his battered soul and crippling his movement.

He had lost his father, and was now about to lay him to rest, ending a physical connection they had shared all his life — a brutal reminder of what inevitably awaits all of us as humans, our mortality the very bedrock of our very existence.

Thousands of his followers gathered at Glenforest Memorial Park on the fringes of Harare, in one of the biggest crowds to throng the cemetery, to say goodbye to their prophet’s father.

They came from different parts of the continent — Zambian miniature flags here, Botswana miniature flags there, South African scarfs here, Mozambican scarfs there.

And, it’s very possible, none of them had ever seen him in this shape — so helpless and so powerless — the tears in his eyes a reminder of his mortality and that, for all the prophetic powers they believe he possesses in abundance, he is also human.

The father of two little kids, a boy who dreams of one day becoming the football star his father didn’t become despite all his talk of the promise he showed in his high school days in Chitungwiza, and a girl he has shielded from the limelight.

He is also a husband, his wife in all-black showing remarkable calmness in that storm, and he is also a son, his mother, also in all-black, a reminder of the gloom of the occasion, of the difference between life and death — for, where they were once two, his parents, there was now one.

He is also a football man. His Yadah Stars players, many of them fittingly dressed in the team’s red jerseys, were scattered among the mourners.

And, he is also a rugby man, a netball man, a basketball man — all the teams he nurtures at his Waterfalls complex were well-represented at this sombre occasion, as he said goodbye to his father.

I was also there on Saturday.

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Because in him I don’t just see a leader of his religious ministry, but also someone with a passion for our sport, who has invested a considerable fortune towards its cause.

Our football leaders — those who were not in Johannesburg for the drama at the COSAFA annual meeting on the same Saturday — were not there.

That’s despite everything he has extended to them by hosting the Warriors, Young Warriors, Mighty Warriors and Young Mighty Warriors at his Waterfalls complex.

But, that’s a decision they made with their clear conscience, and one has to respect it despite all the graphic flaws associated with it, a classic definition of fair-weather friends.

EVERYONE, IT SEEMS, BELIEVES HE CAN COACH A FOOTBALL TEAM

The last time I had seen him was about a week into the New Year, at his football ground at his Waterfalls complex, drilling the latest recruits of players into the kind of footballers he wants to feature in his Yadah Stars this coming season.

Magaya even argues he is a competent football coach, capable of guiding a team in the domestic Premiership, and has always told me he deserves credit for Yadah’s three-year stay in the domestic Premiership because, he says, he has always been the technical brains behind his club.

Five wins, and just one draw (2-2 against CAPS United) in his team’s final six league games, he argues, after he took full control of his side in the final 10 games of the season as relegation loomed large, were the V11s I needed to consider before I, for the umpteenth time, questioned his capacity to coach.

If he was coaching his team full-time, he said, they would have a good chance of winning the league.

Just like the ZIFA board, Magaya deeply divides opinion, and there is a constituency that simply doesn’t believe in him, let alone like him, and there is a group that firmly believes in him, and no matter how you might try to argue against them, you can’t convince them otherwise.

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And, after ZIFA revealed on Wednesday that they have settled for nomadic Croat Zdravko “Loga’’ Logarusic for the job of Warriors head coach on a two-year deal, it got me drifting back to my conversation with Magaya at his football ground a week into the new year.

If, as he says, he masterminded the survival of his club through his coaching methods in that battle to remain in the domestic Premiership, what then did this say about our domestic top-flight league, the standards — or the lack of them — given this is a man who isn’t a trained coach and wasn’t even doing the job full-time?

If someone like him, as he told me, can provide the technical input to help a club survive in our top-flight, not for one year, not for two years, but for three successive years when he isn’t doing the job full-time and didn’t need training for such an adventure, what does this say about the quality of our Premiership?

Does that explain why our champions, who have won the last three successive league titles, are yet to win a game in the group stages of the CAF Champions League, and if the answer is yes, does that mean we now have to concede that the standards in our top-flight league have fallen so much what we are watching these days is an illusion, not real football?

But then, if we accept that argument, how then do we explain that a club like FC Platinum can hold record African champions Al Ahly to a draw at Barbourfields, only lost to perennial campaigners Al Ahly of Sudan 0-1 after they had missed a penalty and, created enough chances to force a draw in Khartoum?

How then do we balance that argument with the fact that the same players, whom we say are all so ordinary they are not even worth our patronage, which explains the falling number of fans still caring to go and watch the domestic Premiership, have only missed one CHAN finals, one of the six tournaments reserved for players from local leagues?

If we say CHAN is a useless tournament which is not taken seriously by many of the continent’s most powerful football nations, then why are we seeing those who are backing Lugo’s appointment to guide our Warriors use the argument that the Croat should be given a chance because he took Sudan to third place in the same tourney last year?

Why are we not arguing that the last time a coach was appointed to head the Warriors on the back of his exploits at the CHAN finals, Ian Gorowa — who took the national team to fourth place at the 2014 edition of the tournament — the AFCON qualifiers proved quite a different challenge altogether?

Thrown into the melting pot of the Nations Cup qualifiers, Gorowa and his Warriors were bundled out of the preliminary round of the 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers, playing only two matches in the qualifying campaign, and failing to win even one of them.

THERE IS A GOOD REASON SOME FANS DOUBT, AND YOU CAN’T BLAME THEM

So, why has Loga’s appointment divided the country’s football community down the middle, with most of the fans saying this is probably the worst engagement of a foreign coach for the national team since dear old Rudi Gutendorf was brought here to enjoy his pension basking in endless sunshine?

Crippled by old age, dazed by the huge challenge and overwhelmed by the toxicity of the domestic football politics, poor and frail Rudi simply couldn’t stand it, and by the time he left, it was very difficult to remember he had once come here in the very first place.

For the DeMbare fans, and there are many of them around this football landscape, the arrival of a Portuguese comedian, disguised as a coach called Paulo Silva, pretending to know a lot about this game, fooling them he could coach such a huge club, haven’t faded from the memory.

The Portuguese playboy, who ended up making more headlines of what he was doing in Harare’s red light districts than at the training ground and on match days, was as big a joke as any that has been done in fooling the domestic football family.

That’s why many of them doubt, when someone — as ZIFA did on Wednesday — tells them they have recruited a foreign coach with a lightweight Curriculum Vitae, whose only claim to fame, and a licence to get another job as a national team is taking Sudan to third place at the last CHAN finals?

Why was he fired from Sudan in November last year, they have been asking me, if — as those who have been preaching the gospel that we should all support this appointment, and give this Croatian fellow a chance — that adventure into the third place at the last CHAN finals can be considered a success? For the CAPS United fans, and there are many of them around this football landscape, the arrival of an Irishman comedian, also disguised as a coach called Sean Connor — who somehow managed to conceal the fact that he had lost 23 games in a row on his previous job — is still fresh in their minds.

For goodness sake, he even brought his son Noah along, with the boy being allowed to grace his Press conferences, as if to send a message he believed the family were just on holiday.

Then, of course, the problem is that no foreign coach has ever taken the Warriors to the AFCON finals.

Reinhard Fabisch, the architect of the Dream Team immortals, would have been 70 this year had he not succumbed to cancer in July 2008.

He might not have taken the Warriors to the AFCON or World Cup finals but, to many fans, he set the benchmark for foreign coaches. A standard for the likes of Lago to try and match and, so far, no one has come even close and — a week after I spent a long time at Glenforest last Saturday, I can’t help but feel Fabisch’s shadow still looms large, even from his grave, over these foreign coaches who come here.

To God Be The Glory!

Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.

Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole Ole!

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HERALD