Pagels’ ‘tiki-taka’ Warriors

New Zimbabwe senior national soccer team coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels envisions transforming the Warriors into the continent’s pass masters as he prepares to breathe life into the team’s wilting World Cup campaign.

Report by Kevin Mapasure

The German national, who takes over from Rahman Gumbo who presided over an Afcon 2013 failed bid, told IndependentSport that the World Cup dream could still be revived and he was looking to do just that.
He will start duty in January after his holiday but has already put a plan in place ahead of the next competitive matches in June.

“I will be going on holiday to Germany in December but when I return, business will start with the team,” said Pagels. “I have a plan for the team and I wish to foster my idea of football in the players before we play the next qualifiers. The World Cup dream is not yet dead; I know many people have given up hope but we are going to take it seriously and field our strongest side. There is still a chance to put pressure on the other teams.”

Pagels’s contract with Zifa runs out in July next year but he hopes that by then he would have persuaded the mother body to keep him as the substantive coach.

“I think I can achieve a lot with the Warriors. I see a lot of potential in the players that we have but my team is likely to be composed more of locally-based players whom I can have enough time to work with. It does not mean that the door will be closed on the foreign-based players but I will have so many training sessions with the local players,” said Pagels.

He said the squad would meet at least once every four weeks and that should give him enough time to instill his football philosophy.

Pagels said he was not a fan of long balls and preferred to build from the goalkeeper and play one touch football with a lot of movement on the pitch.

He already has the players in mind to fit into that philosophy and has promised to surprise fans with his selections.

“I know I will be attacked, but I will base my selection on players who fit into that philosophy.”

Pagels said his aim between the first training session and the World Cup qualifier against Egypt is to improve skills of locally-based players.

He pleaded for patience from the fans during the building process saying it would take time before the team starts hitting the right notes.

“What I want the fans to understand is that this is not a short term project. I ask for the fans to be patient with my players because there will be frustrations along the way.”

Pagels is a holder of the Uefa-Pro licence, the highest qualification in Europe which he attained at the University of Cologne.

With stints in the Bundesliga third tier division, he has not had much experience at the highest level but believes his two-and-a- half-year stay in Zimbabwe has given him enough insight into the local game.

Pagels is an admirer of Dynamos forward Rodrick Mutuma, who he says receives unfair criticism, yet the player is probably the best on the local scene.

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