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Player power against Zapata

Publishing Date : 03 December, 2018


The buccaneering tone set by Nikola Kavazovic in the last two years at Township Rollers dressing room was without doubt enormous. He has left a vacuum too difficult to fill.  Already a combination of skeptism and old standing tactics are beating Rudolph Zapata- a gaffer who was recruited and hired two months ago to replace the award winning Kavazovic.

 It is ironic that the Argentinean is now facing expulsion even before he could start assuming fully the Rollers’ coaching responsibilities! A couple of senior players and supporters now believe that Zapata is leading the team down the mountain. In fact, player power is mushrooming at the heart of Rollers with the belief that the coach is out of his depth.

So far the stock of Zapata has fallen that some inside Township Rollers considers it an act of kindness to cut his brief reign while he is still fighting for a space in the Rollers dug-out. They are seeing him suffering, and feel no wish to see his reputation further damaged by the kind of feeble performance he oversaw in a CAF competition game against little known Bantu FC of Lesotho. There was a growing sense that he now needs saving from cruelty and ridicule.

Township Rollers have confidently asked Zapata to defend every cup that Kavazovic has won, including playing champion league group games. The Argentinean gaffer has duly accepted, but conditions are betraying him even before he attempts. Players are failing to adapt to his philosophies. And there is no urgency in a team that used to play neat football.

How did this manifest itself? In long, monotonous training sessions that are at odds with much of what went before. Rollers’ practice routines were always skills-based: short, concise drills for players who were used to operating at Champions League level. The results were apparent straight away. Rollers’ cut-throat, relentlessly positive football gave way to a more ponderous approach, with more long passes from the back, crosses from the wings and caution in possession. Rollers’ fans now wonder why the team is no longer reaching for the throat of the opponent.

Some say it is because Zapata has introduced a laid down and longer; slower pattern of training that suggested a more chess-like, old-school style of play. Some call it 11 vs 11 in training. He does not believe the club’s top goal scorer can play alongside new recruit Teenage Orebonye. He is of the view that both are selfish and one has to substitute the other. Under Kavazovic, they both lead Rollers front line attack, but it was Orebonye who will be substituted as the game stretched on.

He might be vindicated. The two played together during a mid-week CAF game at Lobatse Complex and were often times caught accusing the other when a chance went bagging. It might be that Zapata has never drilled Mogorosi, but he understands well the abilities of Orebonye whom he drilled at Gaborone United. Most interesting is the fact that Zapata retains much favour on young blood. This injects fear on the old guard but the Argentine faces opposition of many kinds should he bench them. It’s his influence versus Rollers player power.



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