Robson Sharuko,Senior Sports Editor
Chippa United owner, Siviwe Chippa Mpengesi, says Norman Mapeza is the Pitso Mosimane of Zimbabwean football and has placed a R20 million (about US$1.384m) release clause on the former Warriors skipper to deter potential suitors.
The Cape Town-based tycoon, known for firing coaches, says he is proud to have finally recruited a gaffer who knows what he is doing, who has a track record of success, and who has already made a huge difference in the short time he has been in charge of his team.
Mpengesi was speaking to leading South African sportscaster, Robert Marawa, on the hugely popular “Marawa Sports Worldwide,’’ radio show — which airs during weekdays on MetroFM on Thursday.
The businessman said it was a pity that some people had chosen to nail him with a reputation as trigger-happy happy, when it comes to firing coaches who come into his stable, when in most cases most of those gaffers would have failed to meet the targets set by the team.
He said his mission was to preserve his club’s Premiership status, and that usually called for him to make decisions he believed were for the good of his team, and the community which supports them, and this usually meant parting ways with the coaches.
Although he had taken a lot of the flak, for the decisions he had taken in the past, Mpengesi wondered why some of those coaches, who left his stable, were not successful at the clubs which they joined after leaving his team if they were as good as some people claimed.
Mpengesi said Mapeza had always been on their radar and could possibly have joined them at the start of the season, but the coach might have been discouraged from making the giant leap by people who claimed that coaches did not last at Chippa United.
In a candid interview with Marawa, the businessman spoke highly of the former FC Platinum coach, crediting him with transforming the Zvishavane side into a dominant football club in Zimbabwe with three straight league titles, and saying those who were eyeing his signature would have to part with a fortune.
His mission was to create a football club that could compete in the South African Premiership and not one that would always be fighting relegation.
The fear of being relegated from Super Diski has pushed him to take some of the decisions, like parting ways with a number of coaches, because preserving his club’s PSL status was not negotiable.
Some of the coaches who have been recruited to take charge of Chippa United has not performed, as expected, and — given that this is an industry where results are all that matters — decisions have to be taken in the best interest of the team.
It was unfortunate that a reputation has now been created, which appeared to suggest that Chippa were the graveyard of football coaches, which was unfortunate, since those who have come there have been given a chance to make a difference.
The coaches who have been dismissed, in the club’s history, have also not been dumped but have been given good terminal benefits consistent with their status.
Mpengesi said Mapeza was protected by the contract he signed and the club would have to pay a lot of money, in the event of a divorce, but — so far — there was no need to worry about that because their partnership was proving to be a success.
‘‘Coaches must not be afraid of being fired,’’ he said.
‘‘They must trust their players. Coach Mapeza, he is protected, even if we want to fire him, it won’t be easy. I’m happy (his agents) did that but, also, he must pay us a lot of money, if another club wants to take Norman, they must come with a big bag of cash.’’
Asked what amount would be needed to take away Mapeza from his stable, Mpengesi said the club that wants him would have to part away with R20 million.
‘‘Currently, Norman is one of the top coaches, he is the Pitso of Zimbabwe,’’ said Mpengesi, who also revealed he was paying Mapeza an attractive package.
‘‘It’s confidential,’’ he said. ‘‘You can ask him, from Zimbabwe to South Africa, I’m sure he is happy. For the first time we have a coach who has achieved five clean sheets.’’
He said some clubs appear to be interested in Mapeza, but did not have the money to get him out of Chippa United.
Mapeza and his compatriot, Kaitano Tembo, clashed again last night in a South African Premiership match when SuperSport United hosted Chippa in Pretoria.
Tembo, who has been doing well with SuperSport United, also spoke about Zimbabwe’s chances in their 2022 World Cup group.
‘‘Well, I think we are in a relatively good group which I feel with good preparations we have an opportunity to do well in this group,’’ he told The Saturday Herald.
‘‘Ghana, they have been one of the powerhouses of African football in the past but they haven’t been convincing and consistent in their previous matches going back to the previous AFCON tournament.
‘‘They have just appointed a new coach which means their camp is not yet settled. We can definitely take our chances and take them on because we have quality players and having Knowledge Musona playing regularly is a huge boost for the Warriors.
‘‘Bafana Bafana — this is probably the biggest fixture in this group because we are neighbours and there is some rivalry between us.
‘‘The players from both teams have played with and against each other and they know each other very well so this is going to be an exciting and very interesting fixture.
‘‘Ethiopia — they have improved as a team and cannot be taken lightly. They are very difficult to beat at home. Overview, we have a very good team with some good individual players that are capable to beat anybody on a good day.
‘‘But, for us to do well, we will need good preparations and make sure that we win our home matches because all the three teams are beatable.’’