By Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
RAHMAN GUMBO has survived the axe after the FC Platinum management resolved yesterday to stick with the coach and help him navigate a storm triggered by his failure to reach targets set in his contract.
The Warriors’ interim coach appeared set for the exit door, after a public fallout with the club’s fans at Mandava on Tuesday, following their 1-3 Castle Lager Premiership loss at home to high-flying Highlanders on Tuesday.
Speculation was rife in the mainstream media that Gumbo, a multiple championship-winning coaches with league titles in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana, would be sacrificed by the ambitious Zvishavane club.
Leaked confidential material, showing that Gumbo had missed targets set in his contract by a mile, fueled the speculation and buttressed the view that the coach was going to be dumped as part of a cocktail of measures to breathe fresh air into the franchise.
But FC Platinum president, Nathan Shoko, set the record straight last night when he revealed that his management team had agreed to give Gumbo more time and support him in his efforts to turn FC Platinum into a championship-winning team.
The club’s leadership met in Zvishavane yesterday to review their season and resolved that the best way to move forward was to stick with the coach and throw their full weight behind his plans to move Kugona Kunenge Kudada forward.
Yesterday the club hosted a bonding session for Gumbo, his technical staff, the players and the management where all the stakeholders met, over a drink and braai, to share ideas, in an informal set-up, of how they could find consistency, in terms of winning, in the championship.
FC Platinum are six points off the pace, at this stage of the season compared to last year, and the Zvishavane miners review their season in five-league game batches and yesterday’s meeting showed that where they had 12 points, after five matches last year, they now have six.
Shoko conceded that FC Platinum had plunged into a pressure zone, given their lofty ambitions, following their run of three draws, one win and one defeat in the league championship race.
“We are in a crisis situation and it’s the first time we are in such a crisis as a club and how we will manage it will define our season,” Shoko told The Herald.
“We have resolved to stick with our technical team and while we know it might not be the most popular decision, as leaders we must have the courage to take decisions which we believe are right and stick with them.
“We review our season after every five league games and it just happened that the game against Highlanders was our fifth league match, which meant that we had to meet and see how we have been doing as a team.
“Compared to last year, we are off the mark by six points but last season, after getting 12 points from the first five games in which we only lost to Dynamos, we then got only five points from our next five league games.
“So, we are saying, we can possibly make up for what we have lost in the first five games in our next five games if we can get a good run and that is why we believe it’s not in the best interest of the team for us to rock the boat and change the coaches right now.
“We are very emotional right now because things haven’t gone according to our expectations but there is need for us as leaders to rise above emotion and make sober decisions and that’s why we have stuck to our technical team.”
The FC Platinum president said his team has played 13 competitive games this season in the league, Champions League and knockout tournaments, have won seven, drawn four and lost two and had two trophies in their cabinet.
Last year, when they only played league games in the first half of the season, FC Platinum had 26 points from their 13 league matches.
A conversion of all their games this year into league matches, for a better analysis and comparison with last season, will reveal that FC Platinum have 25 points from seven wins and four draws, which would be only a point less than where they were last season.
“On that basis, there is no need to panic but to sit down and see where we have gone wrong and try and find ways of how we can beat our challenges and, if that doesn’t happen, we will then probably look for alternatives,” said Shoko.
“We have started by hosting a braai for the technical staff, players and the club’s management tonight (yesterday) and it’s a bonding exercise because we believe in times like these we should be supporting each other.
“We have an opportunity to claw our way back into the position that we want and we could do it in the next five games, it’s possible, difficult, of course, but not impossible.
“We feel we have the capacity to beat the 58-point mark that we set last season and it could be good enough to win us the championship, and all that we need now is to get on a good run and we can be back on track.”
FC Platinum’s coaches have certain targets, in their contracts, which they must attain after every five games in the league championship race and, in the event that such targets are not met, the prerogative is on the management to decide whether to stick with their coaching personnel or look elsewhere.
While recent reports have claimed that Gumbo’s contract stipulates that he must win all the first five games, it has since been established that the target is not set on maximum points.
FC Platinum officials were not at liberty to discuss such finer details, saying that would be tantamount to violating the confidentiality clauses of the pact signed by the employer and employee.
Gumbo, to his credit, has retained his silence and dignity amid the madness surrounding his future and will today feel refreshed to face the challenges following the vote of confidence passed by his employers.
The nomadic coach has already won the Bob 88 Super Cup and the Independence Cup and fared well, in the club’s first adventure in the Champions League, where they negotiated their way past the preliminary round only to fall at the hands of Sudanese giants, El-Merreikh.