Eddie Chikamhi, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA have been urged to focus fully on the appointment of the Warriors coach rather than the boardroom battles which have dominated domestic football of late.
Football stakeholders feel the core issues, like the search for the next national team coach, have been dragged into the back seat.
The ZIFA board is set to meet next week to discuss the recruitment of the new Warriors coach after receiving recommendations from their technical and development committee.
The indaba comes as one of their targets, Serbian Milutin Sredojevi, is set to arrive in Lusaka on Monday to start his job as the new Chipolopolo coach.
The Warriors and the Zambians are in the same 2021 AFCON qualifying group.
The national team face a defining year in which they play crucial Nations Cup qualifiers and 2022 World Cup matches.
They take on Algeria in back-to-back fixtures of the AFCON qualifiers in March.
Former football administrator Simeon Jamanda said ZIFA should not be swayed from their mandate.
“I am not here to attack anyone but I am saying this out of concern for Zimbabwean football,’’ Jamanda said.
“What’s happening now is not new, it’s the same old story of not focusing on matters of substance and investing energies in useless fights.
“Instead of focusing on the girls, who are playing the World Cup qualifiers and the good comeback story by the Warriors onto the World Cup stage, all we see are the useless conflicts which do not benefit football at all.
“Our national team doesn’t have a coach, for some time now, and it’s not looking good because we have important matches coming up very soon.
“March is not long away from now. We should have started the preparations already and not to wait for the last minute.
“It’s quite disappointing, we knew that the interim coach Joey Antipas’ contract was expiring on December 31 and before that date we should have started scouting for a new coach.
Antipas foresaw it and announced soon after the team’s last game of the year that he had stepped down but the authorities were folding hands up until now.’’
The ZIFA technical and development committee met last Saturday and short-listed possible candidates, from a list of more than 12 applicants, who had shown interest in the Warriors job.
Among the coaches who applied for the Warriors’ job are Dutchman Erol Akbay, Spaniard Manuel “Manolo” Marquez Roca, Hans Michael Weiss of Germany, Kosta Papic of Serbia and Zdravko Logarusic of Croatia.
Joey Antipas is the only local coach who submitted a CV.
But ZIFA have always said they are looking for the cheapest option since they do not have money.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) wishes to advise the nation that the appointment of the senior men’s national team coach is work in progress and will be concluded soon.
“As the football mother body, we are fully conscious of the upcoming Warriors fixtures and the Executive Committee will meet Wednesday next week to conclude the matter.
“ZIFA is aware of the anxiety among all our stakeholders but would like to assure everyone that the appointment will be done as soon as possible.
“ZIFA is prepared for all national team commitments and all hands are on deck to ensure all national team assignments this year will run smoothly,” said ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela in a statement yesterday.
Another football administrator, Eddy Chivero, said ZIFA must prioritise the appointment of the national team coach.
“I think this is now becoming an urgent matter because we have some AFCON assignments coming up very soon.
“I understand all the teams that are playing have substantive coaches.
“But we must also be mindful of whom we are going to appoint. Many people have been talking about the need to appoint a foreign coach but with the position that we know ZIFA are in, is it possible?
“Because, it all comes back to the issue of remuneration. I am sure all these delays are because ZIFA do not have the resources.
“But for how long should they delay? They also must be very careful. We don’t want a repeat of the Valinhos case where we ended up being disqualified from the World Cup qualifiers after failing to pay him his dues.
“So, ZIFA should have worked out the modalities on how the coach is going to be paid. They need to look for a sponsor or make whatever arrangement they can so that the coach’s salary is guaranteed.
“Time is fast running out, the new coach needs time to familiarise with his role.”