Warriors to play Lesotho in South Africa . . . as fans take ZIFA to task over coach appointment

21 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Warriors to play  Lesotho in  South Africa . . . as fans take ZIFA to task over coach appointment Warriors squad

The Sunday Mail

Sports Reporters

WHILE the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Normalisation Committee remains tight-lipped on the venue of the Warriors’ next home World Cup qualifier against Lesotho, just 43 days before it takes place, sources have revealed it will be hosted in South Africa.

ZIFA has also been quiet over the appointment of the next Warriors coach, a move that has agitated fans eager to know more about their national team.

Zimbabwe are set to “host” Lesotho in a Group C qualifier on June 3, and with no stadium fit for international matches, that match will now have to be played elsewhere.

Since the Warriors also have an away date with Bafana Bafana seven days later, chances are high that the Zimbabwe national team will set up a temporary base in South Africa.

A source close to ZIFA confirmed that Zimbabwe’s match against Lesotho will “definitely” be played in South Africa.

“What’s left now is to decide which city or province will be convenient, but that match will be played in South Africa,” said the source. “It also makes sense to host Lesotho in South Africa because we also play Bafana Bafana in that country a week later.”

ZIFA chief executive officer Yvonne Manwa yesterday said her organisation was still to decide on the match venue against Lesotho.

“We are still finalising the details. May we get back once we have confirmed everything,” Manwa said.

According to the Confederation of African Football (CAF)’s general rules, the host football association has to notify the continental football governing body of the venue within 30 days of the match date.

Lesotho Football Association communication and media officer Mikkia Kalati told The Sunday Mail Sport his organisation was still in the dark about the match venue.

“We are yet to get the confirmation of the venue from the Zimbabwe Football Association and CAF,” Kalati said. “As for our home match against Rwanda (on June 10), we will use Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban; that’s where we have been playing our matches.”

For Zimbabwe, this will be a second consecutive home World Cup qualifier played away from home after they “hosted” Nigeria in Rwanda last November.

They drew 1-1 against the Super Eagles at Stade Huye in Butare on November 19, four days after they had played out a goalless draw against hosts Rwanda at the same venue.

Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Minister Kirsty Coventry told the Cabinet on Tuesday that the refurbishment of the National Sports Stadium was still underway.

“The refurbishment of the National Sports Stadium in Harare Metropolitan province is progressing well, with progress towards completion of stadium water reticulation and installation of security system having reached 65 percent and 50 percent of completion, respectively,” Coventry reported.

The Sunday Mail Sport visited the National Sports Stadium during the week and discovered that work on the water reticulation system was in progress.

The pitch was in a sorry state, while the goal area had no bars.

Trenches have been dug around the stadium in preparation for the laying of water and sewer pipes.

In the meantime, Warriors fans are pressing ZIFA to announce the national team coach in time, instead of making a last-minute rush that does not give the new gaffer enough time to assess the players.

National team coaches have been of late appointed on an ad hoc basis.

Friends of the Warriors supporters group spokesperson Zivanai Mawashu, who is now based in the United Kingdom, yesterday said the Normalisation Committee has failed the Warriors.

“Our preparations don’t show seriousness,” he said. “We don’t have a substantive coach and our team is uncertain. We don’t know why it’s taking so long for the Normalisation Committee to appoint a coach, with a plethora of jobless coaches around the world.

“Conducting interviews for a coach is not a difficult exercise for those who know what they are doing. As fans, we believe it’s time for Zimbabwe to invest in a big-name coach. Why can’t they approach the Government to come in and subsidise the hiring of a big-name coach? As fans, we have lost affection with our Warriors.”

The Warriors coaching post fell vacant following the departure of Brazilia-born gaffer Baltemar Brito in December last year soon after he managed the games against Rwanda and Nigeria.

Former Zimbabwe international Norman Mapeza was handed the reins on an interim basis during the Four Team Tournament in Malawi last month.

Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters secretary-general Joseph Mutawu said: “It is worrisome that going to such games as the World Cup qualifiers in June, Zimbabwe is yet to appoint a coach,” he said. “You wonder what’s going on in the heads of the Normalisation Committee members.

Popular Warriors cheerleader Chris Romario Musekiwa also added his voice.

“In almost a month, our beloved Warriors clash against Lesotho and Bafana Bafana in crunch 2026 World Cup qualifying matches,” he said. “We call upon the ZIFA Normalisation Committee to appoint a substantive Warriors coach, who will start preparations for the upcoming crucial World Cup assignments.

He added: “I would suggest Baltemar Brito to take charge of our national side. He doesn’t need much introduction to our game and had already laid his foundation during his short stint. The Normalisation Committee should sort out the required documents.

“The team had developed a style of play under him and had created a good bond. It was promising from the two matches we played against Rwanda and Nigeria.

“We have Sam Ncube, better known as Young Pep, a highly qualified and tactically gifted coach based in the US; and Warriors legend George Mbwando, who can also be part of Brito’s technical bench.”

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