AN unsuccessful two-year stint at ZPC Kariba has by no means diminished Zimbabwe’s long-serving and most decorated coach, Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa’s desire to continue barking instructions on the touch line in the domestic game.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The 65-year-old gaffer dropped a bombshell on Wednesday when he revealed he will quit his post as ZPC Kariba head coach at the end of the season following his team’s home defeat to Ngezi Platinum, saying: “I have failed the community, my employers and I think it’s a proper thing to quit and I will see off my contract up to the end of December.”
Chidzambwa, who led Harare giants Dynamos to seven domestic league titles and a runners-up spot in the CAF Champions League in 1998, was hired in July 2015 to replace Saul Chaminuka with the mandate to transform ZPC Kariba into champions of domestic football.
Kauya Katuruturu, as ZPC Kariba are affectionately known, had agonisingly come close to lifting the championship in their maiden season in the topflight league in 2014.
ZPC Kariba looked destined to become only the second Zimbabwean club after Black Rhinos’ 1984 success to win the championship in their debut season in the Premiership.
Chaminuka’s men, however crumbled spectacularly on the final day of the season, losing 3-2 to CAPS United in a match they needed just a draw to secure their date with destiny, thereby surrendering the title to Harare giants Dynamos.
after taking over the hot seat, Chidzambwa was expected to carry on from where Chaminuka left off and go a step better by bringing championship glory to the Kariba community.
However, it has been a tough ride for Chidzambwa in the sweltering Kariba heat as he has not enjoyed as much success as he would have hoped for.
He guided ZPC Kariba to a disappointing 10th place finish in his first season before managing a respectable sixth place finish last season, earning himself a contract extension with the club.
However, for a man who has always set himself very high standards from his days as a player and later as a coach, Chidzambwa felt the teams’ recent results were not good enough for him to warrant another contract extension, hence his decision to throw in the towel.
Naturally, Chidzambwa’s decision to call it quits led to questions on his future as he enters into his 34th year as a coach in local football since taking over at Dynamos in 1984.
“I believe I still have a lot to offer as a coach in Zimbabwe and my wish is to continue for two more seasons,” Chidzambwa told The Sports Hub in an exclusive interview.
“After two more years I would be open to an advisory or consultancy role where I can be able to share the knowledge I have gained over the years. As I said, that would be my wish and I feel I can do that [advisory role] for another two years and maybe after that I can then retire,” he said.
It has been a remarkable journey for a man whose history and that of Zimbabwean football are closely intertwined.
As a player, Chidzambwa first tasted league success under the British expatriate coach Allen Davey at Metal Box in 1973.
He would go on to captain Dynamos to five league titles and had the honour of being appointed captain of the first ever national team in independent Zimbabwe, going on to earn over 40 Warriors caps.
Sadly, a leg injury in 1983 brought Chidzambwa’s playing career to a screeching halt while at the same time giving birth to one of the country’s most successful coaching career ever.
“I started my coaching career in 1984 at Dynamos after I had attended a month-long coaching course in Brazil together with Obadiah Sarupinda. The club had sent me to Brazil to acquire my coaching badges after I broke my leg in 1983,” he recalls.
Chidzambwa said despite the injury, he had always wanted to venture into coaching after hanging up his boots.
“It had always been my dream to become a coach after ending my playing career; in fact, our chairman then George Kadengu had indicated that he wanted to send me to England for a coaching course before I got injured. I was 32 at the time and it was my last season of playing competitive football anyway so it made sense to start my coaching then,” he said.
Chidzambwa’s seven league titles make him the most decorated Dynamos coach in club history, but the pinnacle of his club coaching career came in 1998 when he guided the Harare giants to the final of the CAF Champions League in 1998.
He also coached the national team to their first-ever Africa Cup of nations appearance in Tunisia in 2004, as well as guiding the warriors to three of their five Cosafa Cup titles.
There are, however, no prizes for guessing which achievements Chidzambwa holds dearest to his heart.
“I have had so many fond memories as a coach but what I would probably say were the highlights of my coaching career, the first would be taking Dynamos to the Caf Champions League final in 1998 and leading the Warriors to their first Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2004.”