Mapeza who has now been relegated to assistant coach was also at the training session and was actively involved in the workouts as Zimbabwe began their preparations for this weekend’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Cape Verde.
Most of the South African based players who started arriving as early as Friday evening were at the training session. Conspicuous by his absence was former captain Benjani Mwaruwari of English Premiership side Blackburn Rovers. Also missing from the training session was Austria based Justice Majabvi, though, Saintief said the two European stars would be joining camp later.
First to arrive was Method Mwanjali who captained the Warriors in their first game in the campaign as well as Kaiser Chiefs defender Thomas Svesve who both arrived in the country on Friday evening. Some of those in training included Warriors veteran Tinashe Nengomasha and the rising stars Tafadzwa Rusike, Nyasha Mushekwi, and Knowledge Musona as well as all the five locally based players Saintief has called.
Saintief, a former coach of Namibia’s Brave Warriors is under pressure to deliver after being appointed despite heavy criticism from the football fraternity that was in favour of Mapeza.
Santief also comes onto the job after the failure of another foreign coach Brazilian Valinhos who was sacked after failing to take the Warriors to the 2010 African Cup of Nations and World Cup. His successor, Sunday Chidzambwa, a local coach later went on to win the Cosafa Senior Challenge with same team.
What is also putting more pressure on Saintief is the fact that the only football success for Zimbabwe since 1980 was achieved by local coaches such as Chidzambwa and Charles Mhlauri who took the team to the 2004 and 2006 African Cup of Nations finals respectively.
Santief, however, believes he has the magical touch and says he will send Zimbabwe to the African Cup of Nations having failed to qualify for the 2008 and 2010 continental football festival.
A win for Zimbabwe against Cape Verde coupled by Liberia’s loss against Mali in Bamako will see the Warriors go top of their group. At the moment Cape Verde are at the top with three points while the Warriors have one point garnered from the one-all draw against Liberia in Monrovia.