BY HENRY MHARA
There are indications that Zifa are plotting to engage Norman Mapeza to take over as the Warriors coach in January after the former national team captain quit FC Platinum to take a break from football.
Mapeza, who is hugely popular with the Warriors fans, appears to be the association’s number one choice for the senior national team’s top job.
Sources said with Zifa having failed in their previous bid for his services, will look to exploit the window of opportunity to tie him down before he is lured elsewhere after he dumped FC Platinum on Wednesday.
Interim coach Joey Antipas’ reign at the helm of the Warriors set up expires at the end of the year and Zifa will appoint a substantive coach thereafter.
“He is very popular with the current executive, and was their preferred choice to take over when Sunday Chidzambga resigned. They actually engaged him then, but he would not leave his job. FC Platinum were also not comfortable with their coach doubling as the national team coach because of the work load he already had. They argued he had a huge work load because of the Caf Champions League games. Now that he has left, Zifa will engage him as soon as possible before he gets other good offers from elsewhere.”
Zifa had initially wanted a foreign coach to take over from Antipas at the start of next year, but the source said they are now set to dump those plans and pursue Mapeza.
Mapeza’s manager Gibson Mahachi yesterday confirmed that indeed the association sounded him out when Chidzambga resigned. The job was eventually given to Antipas, but on an interim base.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
Mahachi said they would consider Zifa’s offer if it comes through, but only for next year.
“He is taking a break, just to rest for the next three months,” Mahachi said.
“If anything comes, then it has to be in January because he needs to rest. He has been coaching for the past five years non-stop so he needs time for himself.”
Another source said the major impediment in the negotiations could be the money Zifa owes Mapeza from their previous engagements.
The association is believed to owe him over US$50 000.
“It’s not a secret that they owe the coach. They will need to make attempts to resolve the past first, before they can start negotiating for a new contract,” the source said.
Mapeza’s last stint with the Warriors was in 2017, when he guided the team to a 3-0 victory over Liberia in the opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Sports Stadium, a foundation that they built on to qualify for the Afcon finals that were played in Egypt in June.
Following the champions’ announcement on Thursday that they had “mutually separated” with the man who delivered two league titles for them, reports immediately swirled, linking the highly respected coach with the vacant post at Manica Diamonds.
But Mahachi poured cold water on the speculation.
“He is not entertaining any inquires at the moment. He left (FC Platinum) purely to take a rest. People always speculate when a coach like Norman becomes available and any club looking for a coach will inquire. But at the moment there is nothing like that and they (Manica Diamonds) have not approached us.
Remember he is a principled and honest guy, so people should believe what he is saying,” Mahachi said.
Mapeza left FC Platinum top of the log with just over 10 matches before the season ends. The bombshell was dropped two days before the team’s Caf Champions League match against Mozambican side UD Songo set for Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.