Mapeza job safe

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Norman Mapeza might have failed to take the Warriors to the 2012 African Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, but has received backing from Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) boss Cuthbert Dube.

The former Warriors skipper together with his lieutenants, assistant coach Joey Antipas and goalkeepers coach Richard Tswatswa, will stay on as the technical team for Zimbabwe.

Dube said: “I would not ever dream of changing coaches because I believe they are best and it is not their fault that we failed to qualify. Poor preparations were behind the team’s 2-1 defeat against Cape Verde on Saturday.

“The preparations were not adequate and we got money for the trip to Cape Verde a little late. The team did not train adequately. The coaches will stay on.”
The Zifa boss said he was impressed by the team Mapeza has assembled.

“The qualifiers were more or less a rebuilding exercise. I will be sitting down with the coaches to find out where we went wrong and map the way forward. We now know our shortcomings. We will have a few changes here and there, but by and large that team is strong and I’m confident they will qualify in future tournaments,” said the former Buymore chairman.

The Warriors were eliminated from the continental showpiece after suffering a 2-1 loss to Cape Verde in the final match of the campaign where they needed nothing short of victory. Mali, who were held 2-2 by hosts Liberia in another group match, were the eventual qualifiers after amassing 10 points, the same as Cape Verde, but had a better head-to-head status against the islanders.

Zimbabwe finished the campaign on third position with eight points while Liberia had five. A victory for Mapeza’s men would have left them on 11 points and a ticket to African football’s top table.

But all that is now water under the bridge and one would be tempted to blame the debacle on the forgettable 0-0 draw at home to the islanders on October 10 last year.

It is the match in which the Warriors lost the plot, thanks to the chaos that characterised the build-up to the game. Zifa were at their blundering best after letting expatriate coach Tom Saintfiet assume duties without the requisite papers. Saintfiet was eventually thrown out of the country and the football governing body appointed Mapeza to co-coach with Madinda Ndlovu.

There was visible confusion in the team and players were clearly divided. Some players were aligned to Mapeza while the others, especially the old guard like Esrom Nyandoro and Benjani Mwaruwari, owed their presence in the team to Ndlovu having been overlooked by Mapeza in the opening match against Liberia in Monrovia.

Mapeza and company will forever rue the precious two points lost at home. For now focus will be on 2013 qualifiers for the Warriors while watching from a distance as the top dogs dance at the continental extravaganza in central Africa in January and February next year.