Fairly good results and fate have combined to swing the pendulum in Norman Mapeza's favour as Zimbabwe's search for a substantive coach for the current AFCON 2012 qualifying campaign reaches the final week.
Rumour doing the rounds in Harare has it that the Zimbabwe Football Association board has finally seen the light. ZIFA has realised that after an unnecessary waste of time and resources in interviewing foreign coaches like one BelgianTom Saintfeit, the most reasonable and pragmatic step to take was to confirm Mapeza as the Warriors' substantive coach.
A few factors had combined to frustrate the arrival of Mapeza's defining moment as the Warriors' coach. The first and major factor working against Mapeza is the fact that he is a Shona speaking coach who resides in Harare, a city which falls in what is known as the Northern region in Zimbabwe football circles.
The second factor which almost cost Mapeza his job is his bold decision to drop Benjamin Mwaruwari and Esrom Nyandoro, two players who originate from the 'Northern' region of the country.
The ZIFA board task team responsible for choosing the next Warriors substantive coach is predominantly made up of officials from the Southern region and they were angered by Mapeza's decision to drop Benjani and Nyandoro from the Warriors squad for Liberia.
Sources within ZIFA who preferred to remain anonymous have revealed that these ZIFA board members preferred a coach from the Southern region, and for that reason they lacked respect in the abilities of Mapeza.
The same ZIFA source stated that it is for that very reason that there were calls, and infact overtures were even made to bring the talented Rahman Gumbo on board as Warriors' coach.
The ugly Shona-Ndebele divide has continued to rear its ugly head in Zimbabwean football and it will one day prove to be the greatest enemy of the development of the local game. It was seen during the days of the Dream Team when some misguided people from Harare questioned the presence of many players from Bulawayo in Reinhardt Fabisch's squad.
When we all thought the Shona-Ndebele divide was deadin local football, it has come alive in the form of the very people who are trusted to be the custodians of our national game, ZIFA board members.
Such was the determination of some members of the ZIFA board that they were prepared to overlook the ability of Mapeza which is open for everyone to see. Such was the hardening of attitudes towards Mapeza-a Northern region man, that as we approached Friday, there was a strong possibility that Saintfeit would be named Warriors coach, despite there being little that is known about his abilities as Warriors coach and any proven track record of his abilities.
Things have suddenly changed, and Mapeza is now poised to be named the new substantive Warriors coach. According to the sources within ZIFA, the ZIFA President Cuthbert Dube has decided to give leadership on the choice of the Warriors coach.
Dube is said to have assisted other board members to see what everyone else in the country was seeing except the peiple who were tasked with choosing the national team coach. Now, rumour has it that the board has ordered Bennedict Moyo to interview Mapeza for the job.
Apparently other coaches had been interviwed for the post, yet the caretaker coach who applied for the position, and a coach who brought us a point from Monrovia, was not deemed suitable and a worthy candidate even for an interview.
It appears that Mapeza had to be interviewed late this week at the intervention of the ZIFA President and it might as well be that his meeting with Dube might have served as an interview. Strange as it may sound, sources revealed to the Sundaymail that that is not far from the truth.
“Mapeza has impressed the majority of the board, including the president, and he will definitely be our next coach.
“The Belgian coach did not impress the president and he is too expensive.Mapeza had a long meeting with the president and he impressed, so he will be our next national team coach.
“One thing which has worked in his favour is that Zifa don’t have money to fund a foreign coach,", the sources told the Sundaymail.
A good result in Monrovia last Sunday (a 1-1 draw with Liberia), the intervention of the ZIFA President and lack of resources to hire a foreign coach have now worked in Mapeza's favour and in the next three to four days, the former Galatasaray player and Warriors captain will be unveiled as substative coach of the Warriors.
Some ZIFA board members in favour of the appointment of Mapeza were motivated by the need to see continuity in the team, and Mapeza has already build a strong bond with his players and it will break team spirit to bring in a complete stranger to the team.
Fellow coaches in the PSL have backed the most logical step of confirming Mapeza as the substantive Warriors'coach. New CAPS United coach Moses 'Bambo' Chunga has lamented the lack of confidence in local coaches and the obsession with European coaches.
“We should stop this madness about foreign coaches, I have a problem when people say (Reinhard) Fabisch was a successful coach but in football you are judged by results, "Chunga said.
“They should just give Norman a full-time job, I’m very confident that the young man can deliver and he has got my full support,” advised Chunga.
If appointed, Mapeza is expected to refuse the imposition of assistants on him and choose to continue with his trusted technical team of Brenna Msiska and high-riding Motor Action coach Joey Antipas.
Mapeza, if he is to continue working his trusted assistants, he has to first work his way around this Shona-Ndebele madness. Already Beezsports.com has it on good authority that the likes of Benedict Moyo and Methembe Ndlovu have now hatched another plan to ensure that Madinda Ndlovu, who did not even bother to apply for the Warriors' coach position, should be named Mapeza's assistant.
The ZIFA President, the well-respected Dube, will have to provide great leadership and ensure that some wrong attitudes and prejudices in his board are corrected before they bring his board and his own business management reputation into disrepute.