The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) have categorically stated that “top of their list” for the Warriors’ coach job were decorated coaches Charles Mhlauri and Rahman Gumbo.
Zifa are looking for an indigenous coach to replace Belgian Tom Saintfiet whose work permit application was rejected by the Department of Immigration on two occasions.
Acting Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday confirmed that Mhlauri and Gumbo were the front- runners for the hot seat.
“The Zifa presidium comprising of the president (Cuthbert Dube) and his two vice-presidents (Ndumiso Gumede and Kenny Marange) are going to work on the issue this weekend. They will then inform the rest of the Zifa board after coming up with a decision.
“But top of the list for the appointment are Mhlauri and Gumbo whom we think possess impressive track records. They are the most decorated coaches in the country. However, we will consider some other coaches including those in England,” said Mashingaidze.
Mhlauri is reportedly demanding a monthly $10 000 salary and other benefits if he is to coach the national soccer team.
The US-based Mhlauri has indicated his willingness to coach the national team.
The football mother body is now working overtime to secure sponsorship to pay the former Caps United coach.
Mhlauri is believed to have held talks with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Twine Phiri and Zifa president Dube outlining to them pre-conditions for him to return from the US where he is based.
Mhlauri is believed to be reluctant to bring his family back along with him, a move that would likely see Zifa pay for his regular visits to the US.
Zifa would also have to rent a house and provide a vehicle for him.
In the event that they fail to secure the services of Mhlauri, Zifa want to rope in Gumbo who is currently in the country for a Caf C Licence course at Prince Edward School.
The choice of Gumbo, however, has exposed Zifa’s hypocrisy as the coach does not meet Zifa’s set criteria for the job.
Gumbo holds the record of being the only Zimbabwean coach to have won three titles in as many countries.
He won three gongs with Highlanders in Zimbabwe, Telecom Wanderers (Malawi) and Township Rollers (Botswana) respectively.
Gumede also told NewsDay in a side interview before the burial of former Dynamos chairman and PSL founder Morrison Sifelani in Ntabazinduna on Thursday that they will choose the national coach.
He said all Zimbabwe soccer lovers and the Warriors’ followers should avoid speculation as a substantive coach will be engaged before the African Nations Championships (Chan) finals to be staged in Sudan in February next year.
“All this speculation about the Warriors coach should stop. We have not met as the presidium, as (Cuthbert) Dube, (Kenny) Marange and myself will appoint the coach this time around. Now that the (Tom) Saintfiet issue is over, we are yet to meet as the presidium. We are not in hurry because we have to be careful,” Gumede said.
Gumede said in the interim, Madinda Ndlovu will remain in an acting capacity until a substantive coach is employed.
“Madinda remains the acting coach,” Gumede said.
Gumede said the net would be cast wide in the appointment of the new head coach and he did not rule out the engagement of an expatriate ahead of a local once more.
“We do not have a choice. But we will have to avoid the Saintfiet experience. We will have to tread carefully this time. But there is a danger of restricting ourselves to a local coach. If we are going to restrict ourselves, that might mean we are not getting the right guy. We might be politically correct but not getting what is best for Zimbabwe in football terms, if you understand what I mean,” Gumede said.
The Zifa vice-president said they also had to be careful because the person they wanted could probably be engaged somewhere with contractual obligations.
“It is our wish that we appoint the coach before the Chan finals in Sudan but we have to be realistic. The person we have might need to extricate themselves from their current commitments,” Gumede.