By Jefferson Ndhlovu,
Zimbabwe Football Association Vice President Omega Sibanda has told Herald newspaper in Harare that Platinum FC coach Norman Mapeza will continue as caretaker coach for the national team and would handle the initial stages of the Afcon 2017 qualifying matches. And possible the regional Cosafa tournament set to be hosted by South Africa in June.
Mapeza whose side Platinum FC is currently going through dodgy patch in the 2017 season, was first co-opted to handle the national team in a hastily arranged friendly match against perennial cross border rivals Zambia last month which ended in a stalemate.
Zifa President Dr. Philip Chiyangwa was quoted last month indicating that his association is broke, and therefore unable to engage a coach fulltime.
Zifa has been dogged by financial issues for a very long time now, especially in relation to paying national team coaches and other logistical activities. Two foreign coaches once courted and engaged by the previous administration took matters to the football court of adjudication to seek reprive after the association failed to pay them whats was due to them.
One of them actually cost Zimbabwe a place in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The other one two almost cost the country the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifies
Former national team coach Callisto Pasuwa who had a tumultuous dance with the Chiyangwa administration, was relieved of his duties on grounds that he could not take the Warriors to second round at the 2017 Afcon tournament in Gabon. But sources have indicated otherwise.
A few others coaches are still owed sums of money by association. And the only reason they have not gone to Fifa for reprieve is purely on the basis of patriotism.
Mapeza on the hand is not new at helm of the national team. He has been there before. The former Galatasaray holding midfielder may have his hands full now being a caretaker.
Zimbabwe are in a tricky 2019 Afcon Qualifier against Liberia, DRC and Congo. Not the kind of competition you want to send an interim coach with. Especially Mapeza who is having a topsy turvy early season at the club. He could be having a split head in decision making for team management.
But again at this moment having a coach who gets paid elsewhere and can only be allowanced for a a national call up, might be the better of the available evils as Zifa grapples with an empty bank account and pending debts close to $6 million dollars.