Ball in ZIFA’s court – Mapeza
Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
NORMAN Mapeza says he is waiting to hear from ZIFA on the way forward following the expiry of his short-term tenure as Warriors coach.
The 49-year-old gaffer’s contract ended at the conclusion of Zimbabwe’s campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon last week.
Mapeza has been working on an interim basis since September last year after filling the void left by the sacking of expatriate coach, Zdravko Logarusic.
Initially, he was supposed to take care of the last four 2022 World Cup qualifying games which ended in November last year but the contract was extended further to cover the AFCON finals in Cameroon.
The former Zimbabwe international yesterday said he felt he has played his part after being called on short notice to bridge the void in the technical team.
However, there have been mixed opinions in the football circles whether he should stay on or not. Some people feel the coach has had his chance while others believe he should be given more time to work on the side.
“At the end of the day I’m not the one who makes decisions,” said Mapeza.
“When I was appointed for those last four matches of the World Cup, of course the objective was to do well and see how we will progress. But it didn’t work according to my liking.
“I thought my contract was done at the end of December but then they (ZIFA) asked me to take the team to AFCON. So the decision definitely lies with them.
“We will see what is going to happen. But my wish is for whoever is going to take over, to see our football develop.
“I had my opportunity and like I said, statistics don’t lie. There’s no way I’m going to say I won seven out of 10 games. Statistics are clear for everybody to see.
“What I wanted to achieve didn’t happen. Everybody wanted us to go there and do well but it didn’t happen and we have to move on. What is important now is to plan for the future of our football, especially with the national teams,” said Mapeza. ZIFA turned to Mapeza following the failed experiment with Loga which saw the Warriors performing dismally at CHAN and COSAFA, among other assignments. The team was headed for another disaster in the 2022 World Cup campaign when the Croatian was shown the exit. Then Mapeza took over in September last year but could not save the World Cup, after managing one point from the last four games.
Since ZIFA was in shambles at the time, his contract was extended to cover the AFCON tournament in Cameroon where Zimbabwe won one game and lost two.
In total, Mapeza was in charge of eight games and won one, drew two and lost five.
Games are set to come thick and fast for the Warriors this year. The Warriors are set to participate in the 2023 AFCON qualifiers in the coming few months. Mapeza urged the association to make use of the national Under-23 side as the feeder to the national team.
“My wish is for us to keep the same group of players together. If there are any additions to be done; definitely there’s going to be some changes to be done because someone who was in this (AFCON) tournament this January next year might be 30/32 years.
“But I’m not really worried about the age because if the guy is still performing and looking okay why not give them an opportunity?
“And also I think we need to pick from the Under 23’s and if they can train together now, maybe they can be then injected into the senior team.
“After a year it is going to help us a lot because some of the guys (in the current side) are now ageing. If we look at the guys like Onismor (Bhasera, who is 36 years-old), they have done their part.
“And guys like (Gerald) Takwara, I was talking to him now, he is 27 so we need to start building again for the future tournaments,” said Mapeza.