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Zifa must go foreign

28 Jul 2019 at 09:25hrs | Views
AN era has come to an end after Sunday Chidzambga called it quits as Warriors coach last week following heavy criticism in the wake of the Warriors' disastrous campaign at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals where they came back home with only one point from three matches.

It has been a long and successful journey for Chidzambga, one that has seen Mhofu transform himself from Zimbabwe national team captain to the best football coach in Zimbabwean sporting history.

The truth is that Chidzambwa cannot walk in the streets without being recognised. Now and then, here and there, he is stopped just to be told how great a coach he has been in a career that has seen him take the Warriors twice to the Afcon finals.

Some might want to argue that he was not the best around, but statistics at hand prove that he was far much ahead of the rest of the pack and it will take some time for Zimbabwe to have another football coach like him.

Chidzambga qualified Zimbabwe to two Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2004 and 2019; and in 1998, took Dynamos to the Caf Champions League final and 10 years later to the semi-finals of the same competition when he was the club's technical director.

No Zimbabwean club in Pan- Africa football has managed to reach that level with the best other clubs have done being Caps United and FC Platinum, who reached the mini league stage, but failed to sail through to the knockout stages.

Chidzambga also has won four Cosafa Cup titles with the Warriors in 2003, 2009, 2017 and 2018, making him the most successful coach in the regional tournament.

Mhofu once hinted that he wanted to retire from football coaching and chances are that he will not return to the Warrior fold again in future, but would probably remain in football in another capacity, perhaps as Zifa president one day.

Even local clubs look too small for a man who has had it all in football and has rubbed shoulders with some of the best coaches in the world at the Afcon finals and when he was in South Africa with Black Leopards.

Zifa have appointed Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa to take interim charge of the Warriors, but whether the two can be trusted to handle Zimbabwe's flagship football team is something else.

No local club has faith in the two coaches and that is the reason why they are not employed. Mutasa was hired and fired twice at Dynamos last season, and Gumbo has been out of employment for some time, raising questions as to why Zifa have decided to let them stay when Chidzambga, has left.

Gumbo had his romance with the Zimbabwean team in the runup to the 2013 Afcon finals and failed. He took what looked like a commanding 3-1 lead over the Antelopes of Angola, but lost out on goal difference after his team conceded two goals in the first 10 minutes of the return leg in Luanda.

Another headache for Zifa is whether they can still put trust in a local coach. Fine local coaches like Chidzambga himself, Charles Mhlauri and Kalisto Pasuwa took the Warriors to the Afcon finals, but found the going tough at the tournament proper itself.

There is also little chance that Zifa can persuade FC Platinum to second Norman Mapeza to the Warriors as Pure Platinum Play themselves have Caf Champions League engagements to take care of, and Mapeza himself is still owed some money by the national football federation.

Joey Antipas at Chicken Inn and Lloyd Chitembwe at CAPS United both have their sights on the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League title and their employers would not want distractions associated with their attachment to the Warriors.

This leaves the only option being to go for a foreign coach, but the question is whether Zifa have the money to pay a foreigner when they are struggling to pay their own players.

Although Senegal with Aliou Cisse, Algeria with Djamel Belmadi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo with Florent Ibenge have enjoyed success with local coaches, history has proved that the most successful football teams from Africa have had foreign handlers.

One wonders why Zifa parted ways with German mentor Klaus Dieter Pagels, who laid the foundation for the Mighty Warriors' qualification for the 2012 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, the man whose Warriors side played an attractive brand of short passing football.

What Zimbabwe needs now is not a high-profile foreign coach, but a foreign coach with a modest record who wants to make his name by turning the Warriors into a formidable force in African and international football.

A man in the mould of the late Reinhard Fabisch, somebody who can let his ambitions soar while keeping his feet on the ground.

Someone like Herve Renard whom Zambia plucked from nowhere but has become one of the best coaches in Africa with proven successes in Zambia, Ivory Coast and Morocco.

The ball is in Zifa's court to decide who to bring on board, but they should know that their choice of coach could either be their downfall or a longer stay at 53 Livingstone Avenue.

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Source - the standard
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