Will Zapata save GU?

SHARE   |   Monday, 01 February 2016   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
GU's NEW COACH; Zapata GU's NEW COACH; Zapata

Gaborone United (GU) have tended in recent years to project an image of professionalism not seen in other clubs but continued to falter on the pitch. This season boardroom fallouts have added to their misery. They are now out of the title race and have been eliminated from the Mascom Top 8 – a cup they won last year. The arrival of Rodolfo Zapata, an Argentina coach at GU, has however brought hope to the management and supporters alike that things could go back to normal. Zapata, who arrived in Botswana last week, has since been tasked with building the team up for the coming season as all is lost in the current one.

It, however, remains to be seen if the Argentine will be able to turn the tables around at the team which is notorious of firing coaches. The team has already dismissed two coaches in one season. In a period of two and a half seasons the team has already have four coaches including Zapata. Obviously GU management will want him to bring in silverware during his stint at the club. GU chairman Rapula Okaile said they are looking to build the team for the coming season. Will Zapata have enough time to execute his mandate in the two-year contract he has penned at GU? As a South American coach and having a totally different style of play he is going to need some time to get the players adjust to it.

The Argentine has already been given a mandate to finish in the Top 4 bracket this season. Looking at Zapata’s background one would say he has the capabilities to turn GU around. He has the experience needed and also quality players at his disposal to do this. However, what he might not have is the time to gel well with his players and have them adjust to his style of play. Zapata was quoted in the media saying he will bring a new style of football to GU. He went on to say he will use the two coming games between Miscellaneous and Mochudi Centre Chiefs to get to know the players as well as prepare for the coming CAF match in February against JKU FC of Zanzibar.

The coach seems to be aware of the challenges he is getting into as a coach. In 2010 he was quoted in 90 Soccer as saying “everyone knows that a coach is measured by their results. Club officials and fans demand that you win. It’s not an easy task and sometimes that prevents us from developing a particular football ideal in order to tend to more urgent matters. I enjoy the challenge of building a winning team. We all want to be successful in our careers as well as in our personal lives.  I want my players to have high standards. I want them to have high goals and objectives and work hard to achieve them”.

Surely he is going to have GU develop such mentality for them to improve their team’s standard. GU are currently sitting at position seven on the log.  “The team has not been doing well this season that is why we are now preparing it for the coming season. We want to at least finish in the fourth position this year and carry on from there next season,” said Okaile. He said they are still in search of an assistant coach. He said currently they have Steve Maposa who is being groomed to become a coach in future. “We will definitely have a complete technical team before the end of this season,” he said. GU have been without a coach and assistant coach following the firing of Drago and Oris Radipotsane. The team has been under the tutelage of George Mogopodi as caretaker coach.  

Zapata’s background   
Zapata is not new to African football as he has previously coached in South Africa and Nigeria. In SA he was at the helm of Mpumalanga Black Aces while in Nigeria he coached Sunshine Stars FC. He has also in Canada and the USA.  The Argentina-born coach spent most of his time as a developmental coach in USA. He started his career as a player as goalkeeper in Argentina before he retired in 1995 at the age of 29 due to injury. Zapata got his coaching license in 2000 and has been at the development side for United States of America. It is reported that most of the players went on to represent USA in the U-18 team. Having coached in different associations will work for him as he will find it easy to adapt to the GU setup.