BY HENRY MHARA
FORMER Botswana coach Adel Amrouche could be the next Warriors coach to take charge of the team’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign which begins early next month.
Zimbabwe host Liberia in their opening Group K qualifier on June 9 before travelling to South Africa four days later. Morocco complete the group.
With just under three weeks before the game against the Lone Stars of Liberia, a match which could be played in Botswana, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is yet to appoint a coach after the expiry of Norman Mapeza’s contract early this year.
It has emerged that the association is in talks with several coaches, including Amrouche.
Mapeza, according to sources, remains Zifa’s preferred candidate for the country’s top coaching job, but could not tie him down because of his club commitments.
This has forced them to look elsewhere.
Reports suggested that the FC Platinum coach was involved in selecting the Warriors squad set to be announced next week for the two matches against Liberia and South Africa. Invitation letters have already been sent to the players.
Mapeza’s manager Gibson Mahachi yesterday, however, refuted the claims and distanced his client from the squad.
Warriors general manager Wellington Mpandare yesterday cleared the air on the squad selection.
“What we did since the coach is yet to be appointed was to write invitation letters to all our foreign-based players so that we don’t fall foul to rules that demand us to write to their clubs within a specific timeline for them to be released for international duty. The incoming coach will then pick players from that pool,” he said.
Sources told NewsDay Sport Weekender that Amrouche is one of the four candidates that Zifa is currently considering.
The others, according to the well-placed sources are former Warriors coach Joey Antipas of Chicken Inn, Caps United’s Lloyd Chitembwe and Rodwell Dhlakama, who was recently appointed ZPC Kariba coach.
Negotiations with some of the candidates have already started and are expected to be concluded this weekend and will be followed by an announcement early next week.
It is the name of Amrouche on the list which raises eyebrows among the Warriors fans.
The 54-year-old Belgo-Algerian was in charge of the Botswana national team and left after failing to lead the team to the 2021 Afcon finals.
Botswana was in the same group with Zimbabwe and managed to hold the Warriors to a draw at the National Sports Stadium before losing at home in Francistown to hand the qualifying ticket to the Zdravko Logarusic-coached team.
The Algerian born Amrouche holds a Uefa trainer licence and has a very long CV.
He began his managerial career in 1988, coaching youth teams in Algeria including OMR El Annasser, USM Alger and RC Kouba.
At club level, he coached Algerian giants USM Alger and MC Alger as well as Congolese club Daring Motema Pembe.
His stints with national teams include coaching Burundi and he oversaw the team when they beat the Warriors 2-1 in the 2013 Afcon qualifier.
He has also coached Kenya and Libya before joining the Botswana national team.
Zimbabwe’s participation in the qualifiers is, however, in doubt as the country is currently banned by Fifa from all international engagements.
Government, through the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) is reportedly filing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against Fifa’s ban, which could pave the way for the Warriors to participate in the qualifiers.
Zimbabwe was in February handed an indefinite ban by the world football governing body because of government interference in the running of the game following the decision by the government-appointed SRC to suspend Zifa board led by Felton Kamambo.
The Warriors were, however, allowed to enter the draw for the 2023 Afcon qualifiers, but under strict conditions.
SRC were given two weeks to the first qualifying match to meet FIFA’s demands for the ban to be lifted, which include the unconditional reinstatement of Kamambo and his board. That ultimatum expires next Thursday.
- Follow Henry on Twitter @henrymhara