The transition from a temperamental attacker to Mighty Wanderers’ deputy coach has been unthinkable if not dramatic for Albert ‘Kika’ Mpinganjira. Football miracles happen at the famed Lali Lubani Road.
Conventional wisdom is that if you are a volatile player, chances are you would also be a fiery coach.
Yet watch Albert, palms on his cheek, sitting next to equally quiet head coach Felix Fosiko on the Nomads’ bench, you would think they are in a business class seat on a flight—lost in thought.
Since being promoted from Wanderers Youth coach, Albert has been everything that he never was in his colourful but often controversy-laden playing career.
Albert, the khete flick inventor, would add a twist of defiance to his character with muted goal celebrations as if to say “I always score, so what?”
In contrast, his elder brother Bob was a likeable peace-maker; probably Wanderers’ all-time top scorer.
Watching Victor score eight goals in breathtaking five consecutive league games last season, you saw everything that Bob, was; direct, speedy and clinical. But he is not the best of dribblers, let alone controversial like his father.
When doing a post-mortem of the season which produced the Standard Bank Knock-out Trophy and a TNM Super League fourth-place finish, Wanderers should regret that it took them long to realise that Victor was born for the penalty box.
Albert would operate like a free spirit in Wanderers squad, drift left, right or behind the strikers to create space for others and pick out his brother Bob. But Victor is every bit different.
Endowed with lightning speed when operating wide, Victor can glide past defenders and deliver a cross. But the young man is more productive lurking in the penalty box.
Yet for the better part of last season, Wanderers experimented with strike partnerships that never lasted beyond a game. Pushed further upfront in the late stage of last season, Victor delivered the goods translating into nine goals in all competitions.
But then young players can be deceiving one-hit wonders. Victor is yet to mature into a classy striker capable of reproducing his magic consistently beyond a season or two.
To his advantage, Victor does not get spoiled with the media hype that threatens to destruct other budding players.
Since Bob, Albert and Aggrey Kanyenda called it time on their careers, Wanderers have badly lacked a seasoned prolific scorer. Early indications are that Victor can feed Nyerere.