By Eddie Chikamhi
Norman Mapeza says the need for rest, after five demanding years in the trenches at FC Platinum, finally forced him to end his successful marriage with the Zvishavane miners.
The Zimbabwe champions announced, through a statement released by club president George Mawere, that the two parties had parted ways.
Lizwe Sweswe will take charge of FC Platinum on an interim basis until a substantive coach has been appointed.
Reports suggest FC Platinum could once again try to lure former Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa, who is now in charge of Big Bullets in Malawi.
Mapeza told The Herald he will take a rest, until the end of the year, and will only consider offers from January.
The 47-year-old coach dismissed speculation he had been forced out of the job or had quit because of serious differences with the club’s leaders.
‘‘Of course, there will be speculation but I can tell you that I just needed a rest and, after meeting with the club president Mr George Mawere, we agreed that was in my best interest,’’ said Mapeza.
‘‘I have been working non-stop for five years now at the same club, it’s not easy, but I have nothing against FC Platinum or anyone at the club and we won together and lost together as a team.
‘‘My record there speaks for itself but I am the only one who knows my body and when it requires rest and that’s what I will do and see what happens in January.’’
Interestingly, January could also be the month ZIFA appoint a substantive Warriors coach after the expiry of the mandate given to caretaker gaffer Joey Antipas.
ZIFA tried to get Mapeza, before appointing Antipas, but the parties couldn’t seal a deal after the coach demanded he first be paid what he is owed for his previous service as Warriors gaffer.
Mapeza delivered two back-to-back league titles at FC Platinum, becoming the first coach to win the domestic title while in charge of a club outside Harare and Bulawayo in more than 50 years.
He also guided the team to their first appearance in the Champions League group stages and leaves his team top of the league championship.
“FC Platinum Club wishes to announce the departure of head coach, Norman Mapeza, from the team through a mutual separation agreement,’’ Mawere announced in a statement.
“Norman has been with the team for the past five years and the Club would like to thank him for his professionalism, dedication and commitment to the achievement of the Club objectives.
“During his tenure, the Club made history by winning back-to-back League titles and reaching the group stages of the prestigious CAF Champions League.
“The Club presidium, fans, executive, management, entire technical and playing staff wish him well in his future endeavours. In the interim, Lizwe Sweswe will be the acting Head Coach.’’
Mapeza’s manager, Gibson Mahachi, said his client had left with a clear conscience.
“He is taking a break from the game for now. Remember, he has been there for the past five years continuously and the last two years, in particular, have been draining,’’ said Mahachi.
“He worked non-stop in both the league and the Champions League campaign and it’s taxing for any coach.
‘‘The man needs the break if you look at it from that angle. That is what he wants. He achieved what he achieved with the club during his tenure.
“So, he needs rest and, probably in January, that’s when we will start looking at the available options. But, for now, he is not going anywhere despite the speculation that has already started flying around.
“Remember this was a mutual agreement between the club and the coach and everyone is happy. I am sure they appreciate what he did for the club and he also appreciates what the club did for him.
“I think the timing is good for Mapeza. Right now they are leading the league table and they are in the Champions League. So, he leaves with a clear conscience. “The worst thing any coach could do is to leave a team in shambles. Mapeza didn’t do that, he just needs to be time off.’’ The timing of his departure, however, could be viewed as a surprise by some.
The announcement that he was leaving was made just two days before the platinum miners plunge into the first leg of the CAF Champions League first round qualifier against Mozambique’s UD Songo at Barbourfields tomorrow.
Mapeza has three league titles under his belt, after winning one with Monomotapa, before dominating the domestic football landscape with FC Platinum.
During his time at the club, FC Platinum played 154 games, won 90, drew 44 and lost just 20 in five years. Mapeza enjoyed a success rate, in the league, of an impressive 67.96% during his five years at the Zvishavane miners. He forged an excellent working relationship with Mawere and while, occasionally, there were calls by some fans for him to be relieved of his duties, the club president stuck with the coach and reaped huge rewards. The Herald