By Eddie Chikamhi
Joey Antipas says he is still keen to extend his romance with the Warriors when ZIFA choose a substantive coach in January.
The Warriors caretaker coach dismissed reports he had thrown in the towel after guiding his men to an historic 2-1 win over Zambia in an AFCON qualifier in Lusaka on Tuesday night. “I think I was misquoted. I have not ditched the Warriors at all; all that I said was that I was given the mandate until December 31,’’ he said.
“Now that there are no more international games until that date, my mandate is as good as over and it’s entirely up to the ZIFA board to decide if they want me and my team to continue or not.
‘‘Remember, this was an interim arrangement. I am saying I am open for the talks if it happens that they are happy with my services. It’s our country, we have to give everything in the service of our nation. We have to be patriotic.
“It was important that we came up with that win. It will give us a fighting chance in our quest for AFCON qualification. Everyone was happy with that result because we had failed to win against Botswana at home.’’
He said the Warriors reacted well to their lifeless show against the Zebras.
“After that nightmarish performance at home, it was good to see the boys turn around things,’’ he said.
‘‘We were not given a chance against Zambia in Zambia but deep down I knew that, with the quality of players we have, we could do it.
“I even took the flak for sticking with Knowledge Musona. But the boys turned up with a very good mentality.’’
The Chicken Inn gaffer has guided the Warriors in six games, won three, drawn two and lost one.
“I think it wasn’t too bad. Of course, we could have done better but if you look at the results, I think we are in a good place,’’ he said.
‘‘We managed to qualify for CHAN and we are still in the running for the AFCON and World Cup. There is always room for improvement. But we need to take football seriously because when FIFA give us that FIFA week they expect teams to engage in international friendlies.
“We didn’t take advantage of the last FIFA week probably, understandably so, ZIFA doesn’t have the money to finance such activities.
‘‘But the bottom line is international friendlies are important. We got the flak in the game against Botswana but these guys had last played together at AFCON in June and we only had two days to prepare for that match.
‘‘The result was clear in that match.’’
The ZIFA technical committee will review Antipas’ performance when his short-term contract expires on December 31 this year.
ZIFA board member Bryton Malandule, who heads the Technical and Development Committee, yesterday said Antipas was still contracted to ZIFA until the end of the year.
Antipas is being assisted by Tonderai Ndiraya, Lloyd Chitembwe and goalkeepers coach Tembo Chuma.
“These coaches have contracts with their clubs and when we gave them our own contracts it was on a special arrangement that runs up to December 31, 2019,’’ said Malandule.
“So, unless we get a resignation from any of them, then the contracts are still binding.
‘‘The fact that there are no games taking place until December doesn’t mean the contacts have been nullified. In fact, the ZIFA board will meet to review their performance and then decide on the way forward for next year.
“If you ask me, we are quite happy with the results. Of course, in football, there are up and downs like in that game against Botswana but this same technical team has managed to help the team qualify to the CHAN finals, to the next round of the World Cup qualification and now we have a promising start in the AFCON qualifiers.
“Antipas had his highs and lows like any other coach. But remember even some of the best coaches that we have had before have failed to get maximum points in Zambia.
‘‘For him, that was a high, however, like I said, the appointment of the technical team rests with the ZIFA board.’’
Antipas was appointed in August this year on a four-month arrangement following the resignation of Sunday Chidzambwa.
He was given a mandate to guide the Warriors in the last phase of the 2020 CHAN and helped the team secure a fifth appearance at the finals in Cameroon in April next year.
The former Warriors assistant coach also kickstarted Zimbabwe’s 2021 AFCON and 2022 World Cup qualifiers. His last assignment was the 2-1 win over Zambia in Lusaka on Tuesday evening in an AFCON qualifier. The Herald