FC Platinum have given their coach Norman Mapeza the green light to take charge of the Warriors’ opening 2019 Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium next month after Zifa came knocking asking for the gaffer to guide the senior national football team in that big game on a caretaker basis.
By Robson Sharuko and Paul Mundandi
The Herald exclusively revealed yesterday that Zifa had settled on Mapeza to kick-start the Warriors’ 2019 Afcon campaign against the very country that he faced – exactly seven years ago – in the first game of the national team’s 2012 Nations Cup adventure when the former Galatasaray midfielder was first handed the responsibility to lead his country.
The sticking point, though, was whether Mapeza’s employers in Zvishavane would once again release their man to coach the Warriors, the team he guided in a friendly international against Zambia recently, but FC Platinum yesterday said the coach would be allowed to serve his country once again.
Zifa, who parted ways with Callisto Pasuwa at the end of February, say they will only appoint a substantive coach after the match against Liberia which comes nine months before the Warriors plunge into their second Afcon qualifier against Congo in Brazzaville in March next year.
FC Platinum announced yesterday they will release Mapeza to take charge of the Warriors’ Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia.
“Zifa have not communicated with us officially and once they do we will respond accordingly. It is a national call up and there is no way we will say no,” club spokesperson Chido Chizondo told The Herald.
“We play our football in Zimbabwe and not in Algeria or Guniea and as long we are here we can’t say no to Zifa. The national team comes first and, as FC Platinum, we are always ready to chip in for the good of our country.”
Mapeza has chosen to overlook the money that he is owed by Zifa, for services rendered to the Warriors when the Association was led by Cuthbert Dube, to serve his nation once again.
FC Platinum have on a number of occasions come to the rescue of Zifa, in the past, when it comes to the national teams.
They once sponsored a trip for the Young Warriors after a bankrupt Zifa failed to raise the funds for the Under-17 side to fulfil their international commitment.
Zifa have defended the use of a coach, who is tied to a local club, saying that DRC – who are also in the same Afcon group as Zimbabwe – have thrived under such an arrangement with AS Vita gaffer, Florent Ibenge, doubling up as his national team coach. The Chronicle