Out of the many coaches who had dreamt of handling the Warriors in the post-Kalisto Pasuwa era, the Zimbabwe Football Association have settled for Norman Mapeza to take charge of Zimbabwe’s biggest football team.
insidesport with MICHAEL KARIATI
Right now, there are too many high-profile coaches who are out of employment, and there were also too many who were discreetly lobbying to take care of the Warriors – including foreign coaches – but those running Zimbabwean football felt Mapeza was the right man for the job.
With limited financial resources to pay a full-time coach, Zifa would not have settled for a better candidate than the crowd favourite Mapeza, who on a salary of around $7 800 plus perks at FC Platinum, is one of the highest-paid coaches around, and is unlikely –moneywise– to trouble Zifa too much.
However, it is still not clear whether wearing two hats owing to being both Warriors mentor and coach of title contenders FC Platinum would not prove too much for “Mushina Wemajuzi.”
Although from the outset, Zifa want Mapeza for the June 9 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Lone Star of Liberia, the truth is that the football controlling body wants the former Warriors captain to handle the Warriors for the whole 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
It is a fact that Mapeza is a darling of the local football fans and has always been that, dating back to his playing days as captain of the Warriors and as a result, is guaranteed of the crowd’s support in his second romance with the Warriors.
However, his previous tenure as coach of Zimbabwe was not a bed of roses after the Warriors failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals after drawing at home and losing away to Cape Verde, which was at that time an African football lightweight.
However, soccer fans were unanimous in their agreement that Mapeza could have steered the Warriors to qualification to the finals co-hosted by Gabon and the Equatorial Guinea had it not been for the interference of Zifa who brought on board Madinda Ndlovu to coach the same team with equal responsibilities as Mapeza.
That is now history however, and Mapeza has been given the green-light to choose his own assistants, something which could also turn out to be the rope to hang himself with.
With no Zifa interference, a free reign to do his job and all his foreign-based players available, albeit on the off-season break, Mapeza should deliver and justify the faith placed in him by Zifa ahead of all the other available coaches.
The former Galatasaray defender should also be reminded that the football public wants results, and if those are not provided, they can turn against the best of their friends in seconds.
So, it is now up to Mapeza to deliver the goods and keep his friends around him.
Rufaro too small for derby
It is saddening that the much anticipated Harare derby between CAPS United and Dynamos was cancelled – over the non-availability of a venue to host the big match, of all things.
This reflects badly not only on Zimbabwean football, but Zimbabwe as a country, that a capital city has only one stadium capable of hosting two of the biggest teams based in the city.
Although Rufaro Stadium had been set aside to host the game, the truth is that it is now too small and no longer capable of hosting high-profile matches such as the big Harare derby, club international matches or games featuring the Warriors, never mind the renovations that are going on at the Mbare ground.
The crowd that thronged the National Sports Stadium when CAPS United hosted TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo is clear evidence that Rufaro Stadium is no longer suitable for such matches.
That crowd would not have fitted into the Mbare-based stadium.
Looking at the crowd that is attending matches of the on-fire Green Machine and the usual Dynamos following, Rufaro is not only too small for the Harare derby, but also poses a danger to the safety of both the fans and the players.
In fact, Rufaro Stadium now qualifies to be the homeground of small teams like Black Rhinos, Yadah, and of course, Harare City, whose sponsors own the ground – not Makepekepe or DeMbare.
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