I’m not a juju man

Kabelo Dipholo

*Mwanga returns to Francistown after 15 years

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In 2005, after guiding Ecco City Greens to a ninth-placed finish in the St Louis Premier League, Zambian born coach Stanley Mwanga headed south to take up a new challenge as the Head Coach of Gaborone United.

The well-travelled trainer has not lived in the second city since.

Now, 15 years later, Mwanga is back in the city that made him.

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The 62-year-old was appointed Tafic Sporting Club’s Head Coach on 1st January, replacing Zimbabwean mentor Saul Chaminuka.

Mwanga pulled a shocker when he resigned as Extension Gunners coach on Christmas Eve.

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“I left Gunners simply because they were not paying me,” explained Mwanga in an exclusive interview with Voice Sport on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was an honour and a privilege to coach Gunners but I had gone for six months without pay,” stated the veteran tactician.

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Although they parted on a sad note, Mwanga speaks fondly of the Lobatse giants. After just six month with the team, he believes they are the best supported side in the country.

“It’s visible everywhere – from the taxi drivers to the women who sell on the streets, Gunners is a big team!” he said.

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After playing a total of 15 matches, winning five, drawing two and losing eight, Mwanga left the Lobatse outfit with 11 points and precariously placed in 11th place, just one point above the relegation zone.

Ironically, one of the victories was a 5-1 thrashing of Tafic back in November.

Incidentally, the Francistowners are also on 11 points and currently lie 13th in the log, a point above Notwane and Molepolole City and five points above rock bottom Miscellaneous.

“Even though we defeated them, I was impressed with the way Tafic played. If you know me well, I’m all about putting the ball on the ground and quick transitions. That is why I rejected other offers and took this job.”

The journeyman tactician, who has coached teams such as Township Rollers, BDF XI, Prisons XI, Motlakase Power Dynamos, Miscellaneous and Uniao Flamingo Santos, is under no illusions at the mammoth task ahead.

“It’s not a good position to be in. But I’ve been around long enough to know what is required of me. My wish is to see Tafic remaining in the league and then see what will happen in the 2020/21 season,” said Mwanga, who ruefully admits that because of the unpredictable nature of football, there’s no guarantee he’ll still be at Tafic next season even if he performs well.

“When I took over at BDF XI in 2009, they were 14th on the log and I guided them to a fourth placed finish. However, I was still fired at the end of the season because management felt I should have won the league,” he recalled animatedly, the 11-year-old memory clearly still festering.

Mwanga maintains that a similar fate befell him during his reign at Ecco City Greens, where he laid the foundations for the club’s history-making 2006/07 League triumph.

“We were doing well, but management decided to rope in Barry Dakar because I refused to use juju,” he said before exclaiming solemnly, “I’m a Christian, not a juju man!”

The Reds’ faithful supporters will be desperate for their new messiah’s prayers to be answered to save their team from the dreaded axe.

Matjiminyenga has been in and out of the elite league in the last decade.

Since finishing as runners up by a single point to LCS Gunners in 1992/93 season, their highest ever finish, the Reds have never looked like Championship material.

Can a man who himself has never won the league bring back the glory days?

Mwanga believes he can.

In fact he tells Voice Sports that he was close to winning the league in 1994 as a player/coach with the now defunct Tasc FC.

“We lost it on the last day. I remember it was a double header at the National Stadium. Log leaders Gunners were up against Notwane and we squared off against BMC. Sadly we drew 1-1 while Gunners won 2-1 to be crowned the 1993/94 Champions,” recalled Mwanga, before leaping from the past to the present and turning his attention to the task at hand.

“I’ve looked at the players at Tafic – there’s talent there and with time, this team can be a formidable side,” he said, glancing at his watch for the umpteenth time.

It was time for the veteran’s midday nap, before his afternoon training session.

Tafic’s long-suffering fans will be hoping Mwanga can rouse the sleeping giants from their long slumber.

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