By Eddie Chikamhi
One of Africa’s leading football pundits, Robert Marawa, has welcomed Norman Mapeza’s sensational reunion with FC Platinum.
The former SuperSport anchor, who now owns his MarawaTV online sports channel, and is an authoritative football voice on SABC radio, said Mapeza did not deserve what he went through in South Africa.
The Zimbabwean coach quit Super Diski side, Chippa United, in a huff amid reports he was unhappy with interference in his work from the club’s officials.
Ironically, Mapeza had left the Zvishavane side to join the Chilli Boys.
“Great news for the coach,’’ Marawa tweeted after FC Platinum confirmed they had reunited with Mapeza.
“He didn’t deserve the nonsense he was put through in SA.’’ Mapeza completed his return to the three-time Zimbabwe champions yesterday. The announcement came hours after The Herald exclusively broke the news that the former Warriors captain, and coach, was set for a reunion with the Zvishavane side.
He has been tasked to steer the club to greater heights in the CAF Champions League.
The platinum miners settled for their former coach, to avert a crisis, after their Dutch coach, Hendrikus Pieter De Jongh, was barred by CAF from sitting on the technical bench, since he did not possess required qualifications.
They also announced they were parting ways with the Dutchman, who had joined the club, at the beginning of the year.
FC Platinum are preparing for their CAF Champions League campaign against Costa do Sol of Mozambique next week.
Mapeza won two domestic titles with FC Platinum before his shock departure last year.
The club have demanded he helps them fulfil their vision to be a force to reckon with in Africa.
“We are pleased to announce the return of Norman Mapeza to take the team forward,’’ club president, Fabian Mashingaidze, said in a statement. “Coach Mapeza has a proven record of success, with the club, having won two PSL titles in addition to leading the CAF Champions League charge.
“Mapeza takes the team fully aware of the club’s vision, which he has taken part in building, and now seeks to attain in a fresh challenge, he comes in ready to go.
“To our stakeholders, fans and followers, the journey continues in confidence and high spirits.”
FC Platinum had hired De Jongh, specifically to help them do well in the Champions League, and guided them in the later stages of their last campaign.
The club finished bottom in Group B that included Al Hilal, Al Ahly and Etoile du Sahel.
Record winners, Al Ahly of Egypt, will face Cairo rivals Zamalek, in the delayed final of the tournament. De Jongh’s dismissal came just a few days before the Zimbabwean champions take on Costa do Sol. The first leg will be played between November 27 and 29 in Maputo while the second leg has been set between December 5 and 7.
Ironically, Mapeza left the club just 48 hours before they began their previous campaign against another Mozambican side, UD Songo, in September last year.
De Jongh, who holds a UEFA A licence, was barred by CAF from sitting on the bench because he does not have the requisite CAF A or the alternative UEFA Pro licence.
Mashingaidze said the termination of De Jongh’s contract was by mutual consent.
Sources said the champions felt they could not keep him since he had specifically been hired for the Champions League.
However, CAF have taken a hard-line stance that only those with CAF A coaching licence, are allowed to participate in inter-club competitions this year. Coaches with badges from other confederations, and those who were trained outside Africa and have valid UEFA Pro licenses, are exempted.
“Consequent to the position by CAF, leading to events which the club has already communicated through a Press statement on the 18th of November 2020, action has been taken to ascertain continuity of the club in the CAF Champions League campaign and locally,’’ Mashingaidze said in his statement.
“The FC Platinum board and executive would like to advise all stakeholders, and the public in general, the common decision between coach Hendrikus Pieter De Jongh and the club executive to part ways for the good of the club.
“Our most sincere thanks goes to coach De Jongh, and his colleagues, who were unrelenting in their efforts to get the club back competing at the level we all expected and demanded. Through his leadership we managed to retain the Castle Challenge Cup early this year.
“Circumstances, outside both parties’ expectations, have necessitated the position.
“The management board and the executive wish coach De Jongh all the success in his future endeavours.’’
The nomadic Dutchman, who started his career in Zimbabwe at Highlanders last year, appeared content with the decision.
He promised that he would bounce back in Zimbabwe when he posted on his Twitter handle.
“FOOTBALL IS A CRAZY GAME!! Would like to thank every football stakeholder, including FC Platinum supporters, and Bosso fans.
“The champ will be back,” tweeted De Jongh. Earlier in the afternoon, Mapeza had told The Herald that negotiations were in progress and, if everything went according to plan, he would return to FC Platinum.
The coach made history when he became the first gaffer to lead a side, from outside Harare and Bulawayo, to league championship glory when FC Platinum won their first title.
Mapeza and his men then showed that victory was no fluke by defending their title.
By the time he left last year, he had built a foundation on which the club moulded another championship-winning campaign. The Herald.