ZIMBABWE national soccer team coach Valinhos might have had his last match in charge of the Warriors after his team was booted out of the Cosafa Senior Challenge Cup in South Africa last weekend.
The Cosafa exit did not help matters for Valinhos as relentless pressure was already being brought to bear on the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to sack the Brazilian after a streak of poor results by the Warriors which has left them in an uncertain position in their bid to qualify for both the 2010 World Cup and African Nations Cup finals in South Africa and Angola respectively.
In the combined qualifying campaign for the World Cup and Afcon, the Warriors have managed just one win out of four matches, a below par 2-0 home win against a Namibian side that did not test them for the entire 90 minutes.
In the other matches they lost 0-2 way to Kenya, drew 0-0 with the same opponents in Harare, the same scoreline they had battled to in their opening match away to Guinea in Conakry.
Now Valinhos’ critics want to see his back by the time the Warriors resume their faltering qualifying campaign in September. Valinhos’ chief detractors are said to be supporters’ bodies and influencial Zifa directors.
According to a Zifa board source, the association itself indirectly issued a Cosafa ultimatum for the Brazilian to redeem himself. An unimpressive showing in Mpumalanga, albeit with a team largely composed of locally-based players is likely to prove the final straw.
The Warriors, who have a remarkable record in the re-named regional competition lost 5-4 to old enemies Zambia after a penalty shoot-out to bow out at the quarter-final stage.
The source said Zifa is shielding itself from blame for the Warriors’ slump because the association is apparently content it is doing all it can by providing the coach and players with the right environment to perform.
Valinhos is criticised mainly for his team selection, glaring tactical shortfalls and lack of authority on team issues such as selection and tactics.
The group is campaigning for former coach Sunday Chidzambwa to be given the Warriors job for a second term.
But pertinent questions arise from this. Can any coach succeed with this current crop of average Zimbabwean players? Will the Warriors be able to transform their form in their most important World Cup qualifying attempt to date?
Zifa chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya this week declined to comment on Valinhos’ fate.