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Warriors and Caps United legend player Lloyd Chitembwe turns 50

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Lloyd Chitembwe

Warriors and Caps United legend player Lloyd Chitembwe turns 50. Lloyd Chitembwe chose to downplay it when he clocked the magical 50 on June 12, yes June 12 and not June 21 as it appears on the internet. It was a milestone birthday, yet it went unnoticed.

Chitembwe has broken a number of records both as a player and a coach. He has reached milestones and made history since the 1990s when he first broke into top-flight football with the now-defunct Darryn T.

His leadership on the field earned him respect from his teammates, hence the nickname “Bla Lodza”. Chitembwe was part of the trailblazing CAPS United side that won the club’s first league title after Independence in 1996. He also won championship medals in 2004 and 2005.

Eleven years later, he clinched the league title with CAPS United as a coach, a feat that no other ex-Makepekepe player has achieved in the club’s 48-year history. He remains the only coach to guide CAPS United into the CAF Champions League group stage in 2017.

In 2006 he took part in the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt as a player and is now set to go back to the tournament this time as part of a technical crew led by Zdravko Logarisic.

As he celebrates his Golden Jubilee, the Harare City coach paid glowing tributes to his mentors Wieslaw Grabowski, Charles Mhlauri and South African gaffer Gavin Hunt, for shaping a career that has given him fame.

The Sunday Mail Sport caught up with Chitembwe on Friday afternoon, soon after his side’s Covid-19 tests at Beatrice hospital.

Tribute to Misheck Chidzambwa

Before venturing into the story of his coaching journey, which took off at Shabanie Mine 14 years ago, Chitembwe felt obliged to pay tribute to the late former Zimbabwe national team coach Misheck “Scania” Chidzambwa. “It’s sad we have lost Mudhara Lakaju (Chidzambwa), he was a fountain of football knowledge.

“He coached me as a player in the Warriors and I remember him cracking jokes some other time when we played Namibia in Windhoek during that country’s Independence celebrations. “I say go well Mudhara,” said Chitembwe. It seems age has taught Chitembwe one or two facts.

“My birthday was a very low key event. We are not those kinds of people who are into birthday celebrations. I was with my wife and our two kids, Ashley (23) and Adelaide (17), thanking God for the gift of life but I don’t party.

“I have also learnt one important fact of life. The fact that you can lose all you have in the blink of an eye. It is always important to make the best out of the little you have,” Chitembwe said.

There are some things you can’t take away from Chitembwe. That diplomacy, shrewdness, a bit of arrogance and in some instances his bullish nature. How the coaching journey began. The 50-year-old was modest when he spoke about those that influenced and shaped him into a revered coach he is today.

“I want to be very humble about this. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until somebody exposes you to certain situations that will define you. “It has been my passion to want to be part of football and I was fortunate to have people like Charles Mhlauri around me at some point in my football journey.”

Chitembwe was player-assistant coach at CAPS United until 2006 when he retired to take up his first job as head coach at Shabanie Mine in 2007. “I was fortunate to be player assistant coach at CAPS United when Mhlauri was the head coach.

“It was smooth and enjoyable at the same. I learnt quite a lot under Mhlauri and I respect him for mentoring me during the formative years of my coaching career.

“Fewdays Musonda and Rahman Gumbo as well, I admired and enjoyed their management styles. I liked the way they went about their duties when I worked with them as a player at CAPS United before Mhlauri came.

“I can say they kind of influenced me to take football coaching as a career. I have always had this unquenchable thirst to be a very big part of football.” After his first stint at Shabanie Mine, Chitembwe moved to Kiglon and Starbill before returning to CAPS United in 2009.

He masterminded CAPS United’s famous 2-0 win against Dynamos, courtesy of a Nyasha Mushekwi double on April 12, 2009. He was fired in 2010 before returning again to spearhead CAPS United’s title-winning charge in 2016.

The former Warriors midfielder left CAPS United again in August 2019 to join Harare City. Is he satisfied with how his coaching career has progressed? “Maybe happy yes, but you can never be satisfied in this job. You still want to do more, the appetite to do more is there,” revealed Chitembwe.

“When I quit playing in 2006, I went on to get my first job as a head coach at Shabanie Mine who were then playing in Division One. I really enjoyed my spell in Zvishavane. “The fans there are so passionate about their team. We did well in my debut season, finishing in the top four.”

Shabanie Mine finished third behind Underhill and Railstars in the then Division One South league. “It was all a learning process…I have no regrets. I am very happy with how my career was shaped. There were great moments in all the processes.

“Kiglon was an eye opener. Navigating through the processes of learning is not easy. It’s not easy to adjust from being a player to a coach. These are two different worlds. “When you are a player you concentrate on your individual performance. But in coaching you are now looking at player by player and also the collective approach.”

Speaking to The Sunday Mail Sport from his base in the United States, Mhlauri recounted some of Chitembwe’s characteristics both as a player and a cub coach. “He was so self-driven and determined. “Before joining CAPS United during my days at AmaZulu, I always admired his grit and work rate in midfield.

“I am proud to see him reach this milestone (50 years). This also speaks to his character and discipline. I had no problem with him on discipline. “He carried himself with the attitude of a soldier on the field of play, taking no passengers and never passed the responsibility. He got the job done.

“My first team meeting with him (when I joined CAPS United) spoke to his character. He asked some brilliant and important questions as he tried to understand my philosophy and tactics. By the time the conversation was done, a new team was born.

“Chitembwe was central to my root-to-branch overhaul of CAPS United. I am proud to have coached Lloyd and to see all the successes he has achieved in his private life and coaching,” said Mhlauri.

Given what he achieved with CAPS United both as a player and a coach, one would easily think the Warriors assistant owes it all to Makepekepe. No. The gaffer feels there are other football institutions that he will never erase from his 50-year-old brain.

“It was not only CAPS United who made me. If I am to say it was all about CAPS United alone, I would be disrespecting the other football institutions that contributed to my small rise in football.

“Yes, CAPS United are up there but I equally believe Darryn T gave me the opportunity to discover myself as a player. “The opportunity I had to play in Poland, thanks to Grabowski who was my coach at Darryn T, shaped my thinking.

“Grabowski was an unbelievable coach, a football administrator and is still a perfect gentleman of the game”. Chitembwe also played for Hellenics in South Africa at the turn of the millennium.

There, he starred under Hunt, a coach who he says played a crucial role in fine-tuning his reading of the game. “In South Africa I worked with Hunt who is now regarded as one of the top football brains in that country.

“I want to thank all those institutions and I am doing this with humility. They really did a lot for me. “Also allow me please to thank Farai Jere, the CAPS United president. We have always been close even when I was still a player.

“He was the reason why I stayed much longer at CAPS United as a coach, even when the going looked tough. He has shown his belief in me and that in itself I will not ignore.”  Now, Bla Lodza has his eyes firmly focused on transforming Harare City into a consistent performer and he feels he is on the right course.

“They (Harare City FC) are an unbelievable football institution. Nothing is as satisfactory as taking responsibility for a big institution. “With Harare City it’s not all about taking responsibility as a coach. Just being part of Harare as a City in itself is an honour.

“I am grateful to Harare City and my desire is to continue to contribute to their cause and success. We are building a team and we have what it takes to continue to grow as a football club.”

Harare City have put on decent performances in the Chibuku Super Cup and in central midfielder Ben Musaka, Chitembwe might have discovered another jewel for club and country.

Source – Sunday Mail

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