It’s coming from the man himself.
By Michael Kariati
Former Zimbabwe senior national soccer team coach Norman Mapeza has revealed he is still interested in taking charge of the Warriors but on certain conditions.
Mapeza told Standardsport that he still wants to be associated with the Warriors, but that the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) have to first apologise for the manner in which they have treated him in the past.
Mapeza has had a love and hate relationship with Zifa and on all the occasions he has been the national team coach, he has left under unpleasant circumstances.
The former Galatasaray defender has also dragged the football federation to court demanding close to US$400 000 which he is owed in outstanding salaries, bonuses and allowances for the three terms he served as national coach and the time he was the Warriors’ assistant coach.
Mapeza was first appointed Warriors caretaker coach soon after the departure of Sunday Chidzambwa in 2009 and took the Warriors to a convincing 3-1 win over Malawi in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier but was not offered the job with Zifa preferring Brazilian Valinhos.
He was to bounce back soon after Valinhos’ disastrous reign and led the team to qualification for the 2011 African Nations Championships (Chan), but was sidelined in favour of Madinda Ndlovu who took the team to the finals where they did not win a single game.
Mapeza was brought back into the picture in the run-up to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers but in a dual role alongside Ndlovu. The combination of the two coaches did not however work and the Warriors failed to qualify for the Nations Cup finals.
Prior to that, Zifa had relegated Mapeza to an assistant coach after appointing Belgian Tom Sainfiet as coach, but the Belgian was deported after only a day in training for operating in the country without a work permit.
Mapeza then took over as sole head coach following Ndlovu’s sacking, only to be later suspended for six months in the wake of the Asiagate scandal. This was despite the fact that Mapeza had not received a single cent in the match-fixing scandal during the Warriors’ suspected trip to Kenya for the East and Central Africa Challenge Cup.
He was removed from his position for Rahman Gumbo to take over.
“If they wronged me, they should first apologise. If I wronged them, then I am willing to apologise. But I don’t think I am the one on the wrong side here,” said Mapeza.
Mapeza challenged Zifa to come forward and resolve the impasse between the two parties.
“What is required is for us to sit down like men and talk. That is the only solution. The Warriors are for all of us, not for one or two people. We need them to move forward instead of backwards, and I am willing to help,” said Mapeza.
The former Darryn T midfielder said he was Zimbabwean first, adding that he was willing to take up national duty whenever required, revealing that he would love to see the Warriors succeed on the international front but first “the right foundation had to be laid down”.
The Warriors are going through a period of gradual decline and have not qualified for the past five editions of the Africa Cup of Nations finals and the continent’s once ninth ranked nation has fallen down the perking order to 27th in Africa.
Mapeza has always been and still is the fans’ preferred choice for the national team coach’s job. At the moment, the national team coach’s job is vacant following the departure of Ian Gorowa and Dynamos’ Kalisto Pasuwa is coach of the Zimbabwe Under-23 side.
Zifa are also in favour of a coach who is gainfully employed elsewhere as they do not have the financial resources to fully sustain the day-to-day needs of the coach. Mapeza is safely in the hands of FC Platinum where word doing rounds claims he is earning around US$10 000 a month.
However, Mapeza is not the only coach being owed by Zifa. Two other former national team coaches — Sunday Chidzambwa and the Brazillian Valinhos — have also taken the legal route to have the national association settle what it owes them in salaries and allowances.
Gorowa too is owed thousands of dollars, but the South Africa based former Black Rhinos and Dynamos striker has decided to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
Zifa have through their president Cuthbert Dube hinted that they will pay off the coaches when the funds are available. But the question is, when will that be?