x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Mguni critical of Cerezo's tactics

The Zimbabwean striker hits out at the coach after a season of frustration at Al Shabab.

Musawengosi Mguni in action for Al Shabab.
Musawengosi Mguni in action for Al Shabab.

DUBAI // When Musawengosi Mguni was deciding his future around this time last year, he had plenty of offers to stay in Europe where he was playing in Cyprus for Omonia Nicosia. The lanky Zimbabwean striker, 26, spurned them all to make a fresh start in the UAE with Al Shabab, lured by the promise of learning from the Brazilian coach Toninho Cerezo. He is regretting making that decision.

"I am really very unhappy here," said Mguni. "When I left Europe, my team wanted me to stay. They wanted me to go to bigger clubs and I had those opportunities. But I needed a change. But I wish I had never made that decision." The reason for his despondency is the lack of support he felt he received from Cerezo. "I had a really bad relationship with the coach," added Mguni, who still has two more years on his contract with Shabab, but is sure to leave.

"He was supposed to support me, but he would not do that when speaking to the newspapers. He would not support me during the games. Most of the games, I have been playing 60 minutes. It is not my job to ask the coach why I have played less minutes. "It is up to him. If he thinks I am doing something wrong, or that I am tired, he is more than welcome to come and talk to me. "Every player gets tired, but it should be about the player who gives more even when he is tired."

Mguni believes there was more than a hint of favouritism in Cerezo's style of working as he tried to promote his two Brazilians, Marcos Assuncao and Carlos Renato. "They got a lot more chances and almost always played for 90 minutes," he said. "I did not get that opportunity. I don't remember the last time I played 90 minutes. I can't count the games. "I think Cerezo is self-centred. He was a national team player for the best football country in the world and I expected a lot more from him."

Mguni is not the only Shabab player to have issues with Cerezo. Salem Saad has been put up for sale after a breakdown in his relationship with the coach. Khalid Darwish has had a showdown with Cerezo, while Mehrdad Oladi has decided to leave because of the Brazilian. "If you look at the young players, they are afraid to ask Cerezo for advice or joke with him," revealed Mguni. "In Europe, I could feel free to go and have coffee with my coach. We were more like family.

"Here, if I have a problem I have to deal with it myself." Mguni who has offers from clubs in Iran, Ukraine and Scotland, added: "Where I came from (Cyprus), it is a league that is maybe 100 times better than here. Europe makes you who you are. As long as you are playing in Europe, you are playing in the best leagues in the world. I have played with big clubs and much bigger players with competition for places.

"Here, it is about whoever the coach likes. It is not about competition. Whether you fight for your position, whether you work hard in training or whether you play a very good game, the next match you will not be in the team. "Hard work or commitment did not matter." arizvi@thenational.ae