Mhofu or Mapeza: Zifa in coach headache

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HARARE – The Warriors triumph at the 2017 Cosafa Castle Cup in South Africa has left the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) in a quandary regarding the team’s substantive coach.


Zifa is currently faced with a choice between FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza, ZPC Kariba coach Sunday Chidzambwa and Chicken Inn’s Rahman Gumbo.


Zimbabwe do not have a permanent coach after Kalisto Pasuwa’s sacking in February this year following the disappointing Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in Gabon.


Zifa appointed Mapeza to be in charge on a temporary basis for the Warriors 2019 Afcon qualifying campaign.


Mapeza passed the first test with flying colours after leading the Warrior to a convincing 3-0 win over the Lone Stars at the National Sports Stadium last month. Forward Knowledge Musona became the first Zimbabwean after the legendary Peter Ndlovu to score a hat-trick when he netted all three goals against the Lone Stars.


The Warriors also created numerous chances in that game and could have won by a huge margin as Liberia put in an insipid performance.  


Chidzambwa was then entrusted to guide the side for the just-ended Cosafa Castle Cup and the ZPC Kariba coach was able to guide Zimbabwe to their fifth title at the regional tournament.


The Warriors at times played some scintillating football as they scored a staggering 19 goals in six matches.


Captain Ovidy Karuru finished the tournament as the highest scorer with six goals including a hat-trick in the 6-0 routing of the Seychelles in the final preliminary group game.


Forward Knox Mutizwa was voted man-of-the-tournament after netting five goals, including the opening strike in the final against Zambia on Sunday.


Defender Ocean Mushure was the tournament’s third highest scorer with four strikes as he troubled goalkeepers, especially from set pieces.


In the past, Chidzambwa was viewed as a defensive coach with his teams sitting at the back while conservative in attack.


However, in South Africa the Warriors were a breath of fresh air as they constantly pushed forward in the search of goals.


The only team that kept a clean sheet against Zimbabwe at the tournament was Madagascar in the second group game which finished 0-0.


Despite failing to find the back of the net on that occasion, the Warriors created a lot of chances and could have won by a wide margin.


On his team’s attacking prowess after the final, Chidzambwa said: “Naturally, Zimbabwean players are good when going forward. Look at the players like Knowledge Musona and Khama Billiat; we have natural born goal scorers.


“We have goal scorers and when they go forward they are good and I think it’s good for the country.”


After the Warriors impressed at the Cosafa Castle Cup, Zifa are now contemplating also assigning Chidzambwa for the 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers against Namibia later this weekend.


The home-based Warriors side is expected to travel to Windhoek this Sunday to take on the Brave Warriors in the first leg of their second round clash with the second leg set for Harare a week later.


Initially, Zifa had earmarked Gumbo to take charge of these two qualifiers but the association is now thinking otherwise.


With Mapeza and Chidzambwa achieving tremendous results with the side, the association is now leaning towards a review of the Warriors technical team set-up. 


Already, Zifa is under pressure from fans who believe the current status quo of having three different coaches for the national team does not breed continuity.


However, there is still one nagging aspect that Zifa must circumvent regarding the appointment of a substantive coach.


The trio of Chidzambwa, Mapeza and Gumbo are all contracted with their Premiership clubs where they are under pressure to produce results.


Zifa will have to buy out the contract of the individual they would want to take charge of the Warriors on a permanent basis.


That could prove to be a challenge since the association is currently hamstrung by a $7 million debt.


Sustaining the contract of a new Warriors coach can also be a tough task since Zifa does not have a reputable sponsor.

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