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Thank God, Mapeza is back!

insidesport:with MICHAEL KARIATI

ZIMBABWEAN football should thank its lucky stars that Norman Mapeza is back home —and for that matter, at the right time when the Warriors are searching for a berth at both the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and the 2022 World Cup.

Sunday Chidzambwa aside, there is no question that Mapeza along with Supersport United’s Kaitano Tembo are the best coaching talents that Zimbabwe has at its disposal at the moment, but Tembo is not available and Mapeza is.

This is  a coach whose presence the Zimbabwe Football Association should take advantage of to guide Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic as Mapeza is blessed with the touch, and also commands the respect not only of the players, but also of millions of football followers in all the four corners of the country.

The choice of the team for the Africa Nations Championships — or Chan — has shown that Logarusic is not getting the best of guidance from his local assistants especially in the omission of Ralph Kawondera and Ronald Chitiyo — amongst others — who so much deserved places, but were not included.

Mapeza has always made it clear that he is open to coaching the Warriors if asked to and with Chicken Inn having refused to let Joey Antipas go, maybe Zifa should extend their hand to Mapeza to become Logarusic’s best man.

More importantly is the fact that Mapeza knows Zifa’s financial position and would be willing to take whatever would be on offer as long as it is guaranteed.

In fact, Mapeza should have been the driver of the Warriors bus instead of Logarusic, but Zifa have already signed an agreement with the Croat, which is not reversible, and Zimbabweans will have to live with it over the next two years.

Those who know their football better would be the first to admit that everything Mapeza has touched has turned into a bed of roses if not into gold.

Starting off with Darryn T in Zimbabwe to top Turkish club Galatasaray via Sokół Pniewy in Poland — before turning into coaching — Mapeza’s scrap book chronicles too many finer achievements than failures as both player and coach.

Having played in the Uefa Champions League, then known as European Cup of Champions, with Galatasaray, three Zimbabwean league championships — one with Monomotapa and two with FC Platinum — can best be described as perfection in any sporting language.   

It would also be unfair, if not cruel, not to credit Mapeza with a fourth league title for he did the groundwork for FC Platinum’s third successive league title that came in 2019 — a few months after he had left the Pure Platinum Boys.

This man surely knows his way around the football corridors, but has unfortunately not been given enough time to handle the national team like happened to other local coaches like Chidzambwa and Kalisto Pasuwa.

On all the occasions he has taken charge of the Warriors, it has been on interim basis. The only time he lasted the distance was when Zifa crafted the unworkable two national coach system in which he and Madinda Ndlovu were in charge of the team with equal powers and the results were disastrous.

Mapeza then laid the foundation for that qualification to the 2019 Afcon finals with that 3-0 destruction of Liberia, but was later on sidefooted in favour of Chidzambwa.

Although — if given the chance — he would not be totally in charge of the Warriors, his mere presence would be enough to spur the boys on and probably make their fifth journey to the Afcon.

Mapeza is on demand and Zifa should make their move right now before another offer comes as there are a number of clubs not only in Zimbabwe, but also in South Africa interested in the services of the former Warriors captain.

Surely, Chippa United’s loss should be Zimbabwe’s gain — that is if those at Zifa feel Mapeza is of value to the Warriors.

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