By Ricky Zililo
Warriors’ coach Sunday Chidzambwa has named a 23-member squad ahead of next month’s back-to-back African Cup of Nations qualifying matches against the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwe top Group G tied on four points with DRC and will face the Congolese on October 13 and 16.
Zimbabwe, who are seeking a fourth appearance at the continental football showpiece, have thrust their faith in three men, head coach Chidzambwa and his assistants Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa.
The three men carry the hopes of a football crazy nation and will be expected to come up with an effective winning formula for the Warriors to progress.
The trio took over from Norman Mapeza, Tonderai Ndiraya and Mandla Mpofu, who were in charge of the first Group qualifier against Liberia.
Mapeza and his team managed to guide the Warriors to a comfortable 3-0 win over Liberia in a match in which national team skipper Knowledge Musona scored a hat trick.
Surprisingly, Zifa in their wisdom or lack of it, decided to do away with the Mapeza-led technical team and put Chidzambwa and Gumbo, who are members of the Zifa high performance technical committee, as well as Mutasa, in charge.
Initially, Chidzambwa and his technical team were meant to handle the Cosafa and Chan games only.
But having been given the mandate to lead the Warriors’ Afcon qualifiers, Chidzambwa and his team began their mission with a 1-1 away draw against Congo, a match in which they fluffed a number of scoring chances.
Hopefully, disbanding the Mapeza-led technical team will not come back to haunt Zimbabwe.
Mapeza is proving to be a shrewd tactician in the domestic league, with his FC Platinum side on course to defend their title.
Last season he won the championship with the Zvishavane side, beating Gumbo’s Chicken Inn, who finished fourth, and ZPC Kariba, who were under the guidance of Chidzambwa. ZPC Kariba ended the season in 10th place.
Gumbo’s contract at Chicken Inn was not renewed and the gaffer joined Southern Region Division One League side Makomo, whom he dumped and crossed the Limpopo to join South African National First Division club Witbank Spurs.
On Wednesday, Spurs placed Gumbo on “special leave” following a string of poor results. Gumbo had managed to collect a paltry four points out of a possible 15.
The ambitious Mpumalanga province club, which was hoping to challenge for a Premiership ticket, is third from the bottom, seven points behind leaders Tshakuma Madzivhadila.
Also on Wednesday, Mutasa presided over his last game for Dynamos, who are just a point above relegation. The 0-0 draw against Bulawayo Chiefs was the final straw for Mutasa. He was promptly shown the door.
The question is, will these national team assistant coaches who have failed at club level, discover their mojo with the national team?
Can they be trusted to lead the Warriors made up of a talented group of youngsters to the Afcon?
Should the Warriors fail to qualify for the Afcon, the Zifa leadership must be held responsible for pressing the self-destruct button, as they fired Mapeza, whose team tops the PSL table, Ndiraya, who is also gunning for the championship with his side second on the log, as well as Mpofu, who is assisting Madinda Ndlovu in Highlanders’ rebuilding exercise. The Chronicle.