FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza could pay a huge price for the team’s poor performance in the continental club competitions, with reports from Mandava suggesting that the Zvishavane side are ready to axe him following another disastrous campaign in the African safari.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
Kugona Kunenge Kudada, as FC Platinum are affectionately known, were dumped out of Africa’s premier club competition a fortnight ago, following a humiliating 5-1 aggregate defeat in the preliminary stage by Angolan side Clube’ Desportivo de Agosto.
They were embarrassed 3-0 in Luanda, before falling 1-2 at home, results that reportedly did not go down well with the club’s executive, who had invested heavily in the campaign.
This is not the first time that Mapeza has failed to impress at the grand stage since assuming the reigns at the well-resourced club.
In 2015, a year after joining, the team qualified for the Caf Confederations Cup, but they were crashed 5-1 by Tanzanian side Young Africans before winning the return leg 1-0 in the competition’s first round tie, for a 5-2 aggregate score.
While he got away with it back then, with the club management citing inexperience for both the coach and the club in the continental competition, there is nowhere to hide this time around for the former Galatasaray player.
Despite guiding the team to their first ever league title after near misses, which qualified them to participate in the Champions League, the club management were hoping the team could achieve more.
They had targeted a group stages qualification, at the very least.
“Honestly, any coach in his position could have achieved that (winning the league title) because he was given everything he wanted starting with the players. Everything was made available to him,” a member of the executive, who requested anonymity said yesterday.
FC Platinum flexed their financial muscles in the transfer market by recruiting some of the best local talents, as they hoped to make a mark in Africa.
They broke the bank to capture the likes of James Mukombwe, Rahman Kutsanzira, Never Tigere, Kelvin Madzongwe, Farai Mupasiri and Farai Madhananga in a bid to bolster the squad.
So determined was the club’s management to do well that they even invaded foreign lands to sign Shadreck Mayembe from Zambia and Cameroonian youth international Albert Eyonde.
According to another source, a section of the club’s executive feels that Mapeza is also “too arrogant and pompous,” a conduct which they believe has also tarnished the brand of the club.
“Mapeza is a household name, we all know that. When we recruited him, we looked at someone whom we think is a crowd puller, and we thought he is the perfect man. Our club is very young compared to the other big clubs in the country, so our target was to increase our support base through him. But that has not happened because he is poor when it comes to building relations with other stakeholders that include the media. The players and other executive members actually fear him,” the source said.
Mapeza had a fierce confrontation with a NewsDaySport reporter during a Press conference, a day before the team’s departure for Luanda.
“Some still want him to lead the technical department. They respect what he did with the club, winning the league title and the Castle Challenge Cup for the first time, but the majority want him out. They feel he is too pompous and arrogant.”
FC Platinum media liaison officer Chido Chizondo, however, dismissed the reports.
“For now, his job is safe. This was his first time experience in the Champions League and a lot of lessons were drawn from this experience,” she said.
“We now focus on the domestic league and ensuring that we defend our title, so that we could presented the country in the Caf Champions League again.”