HARARE – Coaches who never made it big as players are becoming a growing phenomenon in Zimbabwean football.
One such man is How Mine’s Philani “Beefy” Ncube.
Ncube, whose only claim to fame in his playing days was as a squad defender at Zimbabwe Saints in the early 90’s and later at lower division side Shu Shine, is a coach on the rise.
IN DREAMLAND: How Mine coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube is on the verge of guiding the modest Bulawayo club to Mbada Diamonds Cup glory. Picture: Watson Ofumeli
Since replacing Philani Mabhena as head coach at How Mine in July, the charismatic coach has been making the headlines not only for his personality but for his team’s giant killing acts.
Mabhena, who was fired following a string of poor results, will undoubtedly take credit for sowing the seed of beating Premiership powerhouses after leading How Mine to victories over Highlanders and Dynamos.
But Ncube will feel he watered that seed into fruit with what has been a fairy tale run in the Mbada Diamonds Cup.
How Mine beat CAPS United 4-2 on penalties in the semifinals on Sunday to storm into the final, where they will meet Highlanders on November 30.
“What is important is the tactical know-how of the game.
“Can you read the game? It’s an art.
“It doesn’t mean you had to be a great player to be able to be a great coach,”Ncube told the Daily News.
“I played for Zimbabwe Saints but it was not anything big, I never had a big name. What good is it if you played at the highest level but you fail to analyse the game?”
What started like a dream when How Mine knocked out defending champions Dynamos in the quarterfinals turned into reality when they booted out former Cup Kings CAPS United in the semis.
Now they are one step away from winning the country’s richest football competition.
There seems to be nothing that can stop them from going all the way to complete their fairy- tale story as they meet Highlanders in the final, a team they have beaten twice already this season.
Ncube admits reaching the Mbada final might not have been his first priority, but he knew it was an achievable goal.
“My ambition was to keep How Mine in the top-flight, so far we are on the right track,” he said.
“I was part of the technical team before I was head coach and this is something we knew we could achieve.
“To get into to the final was a bonus for me, we just wanted to compete.”
The former Njube Sundowns coach said Highlanders should expect a tough match in the final.
“It’s really a tricky game. CAPS had beaten us twice, we have beaten Highlanders twice and they would love to turn the tables.
“But what I can promise you is that it will be Baghdad, I’m telling you, It will be war.”