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Mapeza makes his mark at Chippa United

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By Sports Reporter

VERY few people gave former Warriors coach Norman Mapeza a chance when he made the decision to join volatile South African club Chippa United in October.

The move, which came barely a month after parting ways with Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum, meant he became the 233rd different coach to take charge of the chaotic Port Elizabeth-based club in its history.

Mapeza’s timing was also questioned as he joined the club at a time when they were sitting at the bottom of the South African Premiership log and almost destined to be relegated.

But less than two months since his move, Mapeza already appears to be striking the right notes after successfully managing to turn around the fortunes of the club since taking over from axed Clinton Larsen in October.

The Chilli Boys have looked revitalised and on Sunday they extended their unbeaten run in the league to three matches when they were forced to settle for a goalless draw against Baroka.

Mapeza’s charges have not dropped a point in their past three league matches and managed to collect seven points which put them only a point away from safety, a complete turnaround for the side which appeared destined for the chop.

The 47-year-old former Monomotapa and Warriors coach said he is pleased with his team’s run of good form which he attributed to its solid defensive record in recent matches.

“We have played three matches now and managed to collect seven points without conceding. That is something that is very positive,” Mapeza told heraldlive.co.za.

Chippa’s skipper and goalkeeper Veli Mothwa has been a great contributor to the team’s solid defence in recent matches after being given a new lease of life by Mapeza.

Mothwa, who was on the bench at the start of the season, made his first appearance for the Chilli Boys against AmaZulu and his been a regular since then.

His performances have been consistent and in doing so, the goalkeeper has managed to keep a clean sheet in the past three matches that he has played.

When asked to comment on the goalkeeper’s performance thus far, Mapeza said: “I am not someone who likes to talk much about individuals.

“This is football and it’s different to tennis which is an individual sport. But football is about collective effects.

“Those guys in front of him [Mothwa] are also defending well.

“He has been doing well but I think the whole team has been doing very well. We just need to keep working hard. We still have important games coming; we will see how things go.”

With some positive results coming his way, Mapeza will be looking to stretch his team’s unbeaten run in the South African Premiership to four matches when they play away to Cape Town City at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday (6pm).

Speaking on their next league fixture against the Citizens, Mapeza said: “We are playing a quality team.

“They have been having their own problems of late, but for us we will go there with the same mentality, attitude and desire to win the game,” said the former Zimbabwe football international.