The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has finally sealed a deal to bring on board United States-based coach Charles Mhlauri as the substantive coach of the Warriors ahead of the resumption of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Mali next month.
According to an informed Zifa source, the former Warriors coach will fly into the country in time for the crucial qualifier against Mali after agreeing in principle with the soccer mother body to have another dance with the Warriors.
The former Caps United gaffer quit the Warriors in 2007, having led them to the 2006 African Cup of Nations finals in Egypt after taking over from Rahman Gumbo before leaving for the United States.
“It’s a done deal,” said the source.
“We now have him (Charles) as the substantive coach of the Warriors. What is only left now are housekeeping issues, then ratification before he is unveiled. We are following procedure because he had his job in the US where he was a director of coaching. He had a very good job there and was not desperate for this job.”
Although Zifa had earlier indicated that the coach would be in Harare at the end of January after which he was expected to accompany the team to Sudan for the African Nations Championships (Chan), the source said Mhlauri would only assume duty when the Warriors start preparations for the trip to Bamako.
“He will only assume duty when we prepare for the Mali game. Madinda Ndlovu will be in charge of the team in Sudan but depending on his (Mhlauri) schedule he might link up with the team in Sudan to assess some of the players, but that is entirely up to him because his duty starts with the Mali game,” said the source.
The Warriors, who were under the guidance of co-coaches Norman Mapeza and Ndlovu after Belgian Tom Saintfiet was deported when he drilled the team without a work permit, continued their slow pace after stuttering to a 0-0 draw against the Cape Verde at home in October.
They had drawn 1-1 against Liberia away when Mapeza was in charge. Mhlauri, who has reportedly been offered a $10 000 monthly salary, now has the biggest responsibility on his shoulders to haul the team back into contention for a place in the finals after they failed to qualify for the last two editions held in Ghana and Angola.
Zimbabwe, who were drawn in the same group with seasoned campaigners Mali, Liberia and the Cape Verde whose game has vastly improved in recent years, resume their bid for a place at the finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon with a trip to Bamako next month.