Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA are set to put in motion the recruitment processes to hire a substantive coach to replace Norman Mapeza whose contract ended last week following the Warriors’ early exit from the African Cup of Nations.
Mapeza has been working on an interim basis since September last year, filling the void left by the sacking of under-performing expatriate coach, Zdravko Logarusic.
Initially, Mapeza was supposed to take care of the last four 2022 World Cup qualifying games which ended in November last year but the contract was extended further to cover the AFCON finals in Cameroon.
ZIFA’s acting head of secretariat, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday confirmed the expiry of Mapeza’s contract.
“Mapeza’s contract was for this tournament. It was an interim arrangement that was made between him and ZIFA and I can confirm the contract ended at the tournament.
“However, it might sound too early now for me to comment further. We will advise the nation of the way forward at the appropriate time,” said Gwesela.
Mapeza, who is fully employed by FC Platinum, will now revert to his club duties to prepare his side ahead of the resumption of the Castle Lager Premiership campaign.
Members of his technical team, which comprised assistants Taurayi Mangwiro, Mandla Mpofu and goalkeepers’ trainer Energy Murambadoro, are also set to return to club business.
The Warriors need a substantive technical team to take the team forward. The team has had a difficult run in the last two years in which they lost a massive 13 games from 22 outings. They won only twice when international football resumed in October 2020 after the Covid-19 outbreak.
Loga, who was the last substantive coach, had an unwanted record of one win in 14 games. Loga had a performance-based contract but was unnecessarily given a long rope when results on the ground proved the team was not going anywhere.
The Warriors failed dismally at CHAN, COSAFA and were headed for another disaster in the World Cup campaign when the Croatian was shown the exit.
Then Mapeza took over in September last year but could not save the World Cup with one point from the last four games. His record also does not make a pleasant reading after winning only one game in eight outings.
Mapeza had experienced five defeats and two draws before Zimbabwe beat 2-1 Guinea at the AFCON finals last week. There has been debate about his capabilities and the work load placed on him as he also had to juggle between club and national team duties.
The appointment of the Warriors coach should be one of the priorities for ZIFA. The Warriors need a competitive technical team.
Previously, their weak financial standing has hampered the selection process. ZIFA have to find ways to come up with an attractive package to lure the best football brains. The experiment that saw the hiring of “affordable” foreign characters like Loga should not be repeated. Barring an adverse ruling from FIFA, who announced a possible ban of Zimbabwe from the football family late last year over the stand-off between ZIFA and the Sports and Recreation Commission, the Warriors are set to have another busy calendar this year.
The qualifiers for the 2023 AFCON finals to be held in Cote d’Ivoire are set to begin in the first quarter of the year.
Fortunately, Zimbabwe will not be starting at the preliminary round stage, which begins in March following the draw that was conducted last Friday. There is also going to be the CHAN qualifiers and possibly the COSAFA senior men’s tournament.
“We will participate in all senior men’s and women’s football tournaments,” said Gwesela.
The outcome of the ZIFA special Emergency Extraordinary meeting, which has been slated for this coming weekend in Harare, is likely to give the direction ZIFA would take.
The association could not appoint a substantive coach following the suspension of the ZIFA board two months ago over governance issues and mismanagement of funds.
Members of the suspended ZIFA board led by Felton Kamambo look set to be booted out at the EGM which has been called by disgruntled members of the association’s Congress.