Inside Sport: Waiting for the Warriors coach

At the moment, the Warriors do not have a coach following the departure of Baltemar Brito in December, 2023, and Norman Mapeza

THE Zimbabwe football family is playing a guessing game as to who will be appointed the Zimbabwe national team coach as Africa approaches the resumption of its 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

With the limited time available, the football goers are pretty sure that the coach will be a local although they are not sure whether that local is at the moment based in Zimbabwe or abroad with Bruce Grobbelaar's name also being thrown around.

Even so is the example that was set when the Zimbabwe Under-23 coach Simon Marange and Zifa technical director Jethro Hunidzarira were persuaded to come back home from abroad to take up national duty assignments.

The speculation on Grobbelaar, though, was sparked off by the Jungleman's visit to Zimbabwe for the Fifa Football For Schools Programme at the invitation of the Zifa normalisation committee which appoints the national team coach.

Although he played football at the highest level for Liverpool and before that for Highlanders in Zimbabwe and Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada, Grobbelaar has only had short spells as coach of the Warriors.

At the moment, the Warriors do not have a coach following the departure of Baltemar Brito in December, 2023, and Norman Mapeza —we were told — was only there for the Four Nations Tournament in Malawi where Zimbabwe reached the final before being outplayed 3-1 by Kenya.

On that premise, the issue of the national team coach should be treated with urgency because the man carries the hopes and expectations of the entire nation as Zimbabwe seeks a World Cup appearance for the first time in history.

The coach needs time to have a look at the players —both at home and abroad — in order to identify those who suit his system of play before deciding on call ups.

Moreso, he also needs time to experiment with the players in one or two friendly matches in order to come up with combinations that can dismantle the challenge that the Crocodiles of Lesotho and Bafana Bafana of South Africa present.

Although some have been calling for the extension of Mapeza's time with the Warriors, or the possible return of Brito, nobody is telling Zifa whom to appoint because after all, they are responsible for their decisions.

All that Zimbabweans want is a coach who is technically sound, has a proven track record and above all, is respected by the players most of whom play for recognisable teams abroad.

In fact, the Warriors need somebody like Sunday Chidzambwa, a man who could declare his principles through the performance of his team without himself getting involved in the politics of the game.

Somebody like Reinhard Fabisch, a man who could let his ambitions soar while keeping his feet on the ground against outside forces.

The choice, though, is in the hands of the Zifa normalisation committee and whether they can find that man locally or abroad, what is important is that they come up with the right coach for Zimbabwe's most popular sports team.

With the right coach and proper organisation, the Warriors can qualify for the World Cup as they are only two points behind leaders Rwanda and Nigeria in a group that also includes Benin, Lesotho, and Nigeria.

From the outset, this looks impossible, but history tells us that Angola and Togo made the World Cup journey when nobody thought they would.

With the right choice of coach, our own journey will come full circle one day.

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