Affectionately known as Valinhos, the Warriors mentor had some enlightening stories for Grace Chirumanzu in her latest interview, which lasted for three hours, the longest off-field dialogue for The Zimbabwean sports reporter.
G.C How do you like your job in Zimbabwe?
J.V I like it. The people here are very nice and educated. They have been nice to me and l appreciate that. Every time I go to watch matches or I get in supermarkets I can see people have confidence in me.
G.C How is the working environment in Brazil compared to Zimbabwe?
J.V its quiet different. In Brazil it’s easy to pick a team because there are Under 15 to Under 9 teams at club level and they have access to training equipments and many football grounds, so by the time they get to senior level they will be experienced. Here someone who is 22 may be considered very young, but in Brazil he would be experienced, playing for the national team and expected to do much.
G.C How do you cope with criticism from the media? Does it affect you?
J.V Criticism is good for a coach, but it needs to be constructive not destructive like what most journalist here do. Sometimes they do not understand my decisions in the team and instead of asking me all they can say is, The coach is bad! You can tell someone don’t want me here.
G.C Do they really make you feel that way?
J.V (Taking out a herald newspaper cutting of 15 March, Dawn of a new Error, by Robson Sharuko) Look Grace, here he says I met Valinhos more than twenty times for the past three months and even talked to him for two hours over dinner but each time l meet him I have to introduce myself. I had only two months in this country and the twenty times he talks of I don’t even remember. Well, I can admit I may not have remembered him but I cannot be expected to remember so many faces in a short period of time.
G.C (Smiling) Well I hope I will not have to introduce myself again when we meet Valinhos?
J.V (Laughs) Well I always remember you with your hairstyle, I remember I used to confuse Gilbert Banda with Lionel (Mutizwa.)
G.C I’m sure it’s now easy for you because Lionel cut off his dreadlocks. I must comment your English has improved, who has been helping you?
J.V Thank you. I paid a teacher for some lessons, I need to improve I understand my English is not well.
G.C Is it not difficult to communicate with the players then?
J.V No it has never been difficult because Shariff always assisted and the players do understand me well, you can ask David (Kutyauripo), Desmond (Maringwa), Gilbert Banda or Arubi you will have the answer.
G.C How is your relationship with the boys?
J.V I have a good relationship with them, both the foreign based and locals. I think the only problem is discipline. Discipline is the fundamental thing in football; they don’t seem to have much of it. Each time we have a camp at these expensive hotels they will have brothers, sisters, parents and some of them even girlfriends visiting them. After games they drink too much, well its social I understand but too much is just not good for players. It’s not all of them anyway, but when it is time for lunch, breakfast or training it should be understood. If I’m still here next time, after Guinea, I will want them to camp far from Harare where they will not go out or have visitors. They should be able to put their 100 percent efforts.
G.C Would you say that was the reason why we suffered in the Cosafa tournament or even against Kenya in the World Cup qualifiers?
J.V It was part of it but I think it was also loss of concentration in the game especially against Kenya. They also need the moral in camp. When we were in Kenya their opponents had all the moral and when they came back here for the reverse fixture the Kenyans were singing, playing music and enjoying themselves yet the home team was so quiet. They also don’t believe in the system. I think they should be promised how much they will get if they win, draw or lose because that has not been the case. You will have players asking about their monies before the game or even some saying if I don’t have money I don’t play, if I don’t have money I don’t travel.
G.C You were saying if you are around next time you will camp outside Harare. Do you feel that your position has been threatened by the loses your troops encountered?
J.V People just need to be patient; it’s not easy to produce results on one day basis. I have seen an article in The Independent (1 August 2008) which was talking about my position being uncomfortable. Well when we drew in Guinea and won against Namibia, we were topping the group and they never talked about my position being comfortable! Okay, it may be uncomfortable but people just need to be patient to get results.
G.C The late former Zimbabwean coach, Reinhard Fabisch has not been able to take Zim to the World Cup nor Nations Cup, but he will always be remembered for winning sweet victories against African heavyweight such as Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt and assembling Zimbabwe’s strongest team of all time. How would you wish to be remembered as the Warriors coach Valinhos?
J.V Fabisch really made a good team and his name grew. Well as for my position, we still have chances to qualify if we win our last two games. But the bad thing is we will not only be relying on our performance, we will also be hoping Kenya lose against Namibia and Guinea.
G.C Benjani’s critics have blamed him for not scoring goals for the Warriors. Does his injury worry you that much if we are to miss him against Guinea, next month?
J.V I can’t say much about his injury because I’m not a doctor, but if the injury is serious as it is reported, we may miss him because he will need more time to recover. As for the goals I can not blame him, he worked hard as a striker in all the games he played and he was just unfortunate not to score.
G.C Soccer fans have the notion that some locals can do better than other foreign based players in your team; a good example is Edward Sadomba from Dynamos.
J.V Well for our defense I think we are okay, though I think we need to change a bit. Our midfield needs more creativity, fast attack and more movement between mid to attack. Sadomba is good, I have followed his games and I noticed he has good position in the penalty area especially when the ball is crossed. I believe in him, he is on my plan against Guinea; we have been together with him in camp since the first game against South Africa. With some local players its quiet different, you have a player who is very good playing in his club but he does not perform well in the national team.
G.C Joel Luphahla had suffered a terrible injury that took time to recover and you dropped Daniel Zokoto to give Luphahla a place in the team at the Cosafa tourney. Was it not a gamble?
J.V It was not like that. I telephoned his team and they advised me that he was fit to play. He had been on the game more than two months ago and he has been playing in friendly matches with his team. He has a good condition of fitness so we had to give him a chance.
G.C Point taken. What is the story with Tapuwa Kapini?
J.V Well we telephoned Kapini several times to call him for camp in our first game of the World Cup qualifiers but he wouldn’t pick up our phones and when we were preparing he suddenly pitched up. Already I had three goalkeepers on my line-up and I told him Sorry I can’t do anything now, maybe next time my friend. It would have not been fair for the other three keepers I had worked with to just cancel them off in the last minute because he had showed up.
CG. Wish you all the best in your campaigns with the Warriors and thank you for your time Valinhos.
J.V Thank you Grace.