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Mhlauri on the verge

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The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) are zooming in on former Caps United coach Charles Mhlauri to replace rejected Belgian gaffer Tom Saintfiet for the Warriors’ top job.

Zifa are currently searching for a local coach to replace Saintfiet after their attempted recruitment of the former Namibia coach went up in smoke following the Department of Immigration’s refusal to issue a work permit for the expatriate.

Cuthbert Dube, the Zifa boss, hinted after the debacle that they would hire a local coach while immediately appointing assistant coach Madinda Ndlovu in a caretaker capacity.

Ndlovu has been tasked with establishing groundwork for the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals scheduled for next year.

The domestic football governing body has also earmarked Botswana-based former Warriors midfielder Rahman Gumbo.

Gumbo is a stone’s throw away in Botswana where he is coaching Mochudi Centre Chiefs .

Gumbo is one of the most decorated coaches in the country and holds his own record after winning three championships in three different countries namely Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana.

He won the top accolade with Highlanders in Zimbabwe before proving his mettle in Malawi with MTL Wanderers.

To show that these were not flukes at all, the nomadic coach again captured the Botswana title last year with Township Rollers.

Zifa acting chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze said: “We are looking for the most decorated local coach to assume the Warriors top job. We could not approach anyone before getting the signal from the Department of Immigration over Saintfiet.

“Now that the department has rejected our appeal, the Zifa board will sit to deliberate on who they want but it will be a local coach. Only after the board sits shall we be able to speak on who we are going to approach.”

But a Zifa board member close to the goings-on said: “We have already approached Mhlauri and he is willing to come back home. A good package is being worked out to lure him.

“The only problem is that he might not want to uproot his family from the United States. He will come here specifically for the job and see how it goes in case things go wrong. But the fact of the matter is that Zifa are putting a lot of effort to get him.”

Mhlauri became the second local coach after Sunday Chidzambwa to take the Warriors to the African Cup of Nations after a series of failures by foreign coaches since independence in 1980.

Chidzambwa, now coaching Black Leopards in South Africa, led Zimbabwe to the continental finals for the first time in 2004 before Mhlauri replicated the feat two years later.

Gumbo, who spent most of the time as Chidzambwa’s understudy, briefly took charge of the Warriors in 2004 but fell out of favour after alleged indiscipline in camp ahead of the titanic clash against Nigeria in September that year.

Zimbabwe lost 3-0 to the Super Eagles.

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