Assimilating into a new team can be a difficult experience for any player, but Muwanei Mapenzi has overcome this challenge and hit a purple patch club Tigers.
Just a few weeks from the start of Round Two of the 2015/2016 Premier League season, Tigers are sitting comfortably at the top of the log, thanks in part to the goals from Mapenzi.
With six league goals so far, the former Eleven Arrows’ striker is chasing FNB Orlando Pirates’ Terdius Uiseb, who is on nine. With a personal goal of being top league goalscorer by the end of the season, Mapenzi is aiming for a minimum of 15 goals.
“I am doing well and it’s exciting, but my first priority is to win with the team. But after that, I am definitely looking at getting the Golden Boot. It is something I have achieved before, but to do it with a league-winning team will be exciting,” beamed the attacker.
Joining a new club, especially one which added a number of new players in one transfer window and appointed a new coach (Brian Isaacs) on top of that, was rather difficult. But it was a ‘ride’ once the team found its rhythm, Mapenzi notes.
“The whole team was hungry, and that is something which comes directly from the coach. Before the season started, our aim was to at least make the top three. To stay where we are is not going to be easy, but we are determined, and we are playing to win the league,” says the Katima Mulilo-born striker.
As with any other job, it is possible to hit a dry spell, but Mapenzi says for him the trick is to remain confident.
Wise words from the coach have also kept him strong, but his obsession to put the ball in the back of the net is what drives him forward, even in a dry patch, so much so that he says he would take a 3-3 draw in which he scores a hat-trick than a 1-0 win for his team.
Mapenzi, who grew up in Walvis Bay, says a move to a Windhoekbased club was not as difficult as he had anticipated.
Although he misses the introspective walks on the beach, life remains the of his days at home, just as he used to do in his coastal hometown.
His last national team call-up was for the Brave Warriors’ Four Nations engagement in Angola, but he says he remains hopeful his performances will get him a regular callup to the national squad.
Although everything appears to be going well, the season is not without its bumps.
“The biggest challenge this season for me has been the two fixtures a weekend. That is something I have done before of course, but because every team is chasing us, the tempo of our play has to be high in every game.
But eventually, the body starts to get used to the high-intensity matches and training,” Mapenzi says.
The General Manager of the Tigers Sports Club, Matthew Haikali had only praise for his charge. “He has the skills to keep performing at this level for a long time. He has been a great addition to the club, but of course it is a team effort”, he stated.
With the club chasing their first league title in 30 years, Haikali says they are taking things one game at a time as the six-point lead they hold over the rest of the title contenders can be dashed in a weekend.
“We’ve been working very hard towards this. Winning the Bidvest Cup last year was just a step towards our goal. We want to kill the myth that there is a top two in the Premier League. Tigers is one of the oldest clubs in the country, and we want to show that we are here and will remain here,” Haikali warned.
He further encouraged fans to come out in big numbers to support the team.