I MADE a pretty bold prediction at the beginning of the year, stating that Norman Mapeza was poised for coaching success in South Africa after the former Zimbabwe captain was put in charge of volatile top-flight club Chippa United mid-season.
Eleven months later, the ex-Galatasaray player is back home, re-joining the team he had last coached in Zimbabwe before taking a leap of faith to a club notorious for sacking coaches on a whim.
And most of us seemed to agree that there was truly no shame in how Mapeza left Chippa just four months into his contract in April, given the circumstances of his working conditions there.
Results had not particularly been disastrous for the Zimbabwean gaffer in Port Elizabeth, and the former Warriors skipper is never one to react well to any overbearing manner of running the affairs of teams.
What a match made in hell it was always destined to be for a touch customer like Mapeza and the trigger-happy tycoon owner of the club, Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi.
True to character on both sides, as soon as Mpengesi started to throw his weight around, Mapeza did not stick around a minute longer. You just couldn’t make it up.
Another attempt by Mapeza to stay in South Africa to join Tshakuma Tsha Madzivandila, a new club, somehow did not materialise. So the man whose coaching skills are well respected at home is now back with local side FC Platinum.
When I last wrote back in January, I opined that the move to South Africa was Mapeza’s first real opportunity to make a name for himself outside the comfort of home, where in all honesty he has nothing to prove anymore in terms of domestic silverware.
While Mapeza was being forced to come back home, recharge his batteries and maybe give it another go at a later stage, South Africa’s own version of him—Pitso Mosimane—has been making waves in continental football.
Following a blockbuster move for Mosimane to African club football power Al Ahly in September, the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns tactician has since won the Egyptian Premier League title and as well as the African Champions League. This is impressive stuff already for Mosimane, over and above his prolific coaching career with Sundowns. Mosimane has been quite lucky to coach clubs with very deep pockets. But you still need to be a very good strategist to bring it all together and achieve success in the punishing terrain of football coaching. Many have failed to deliver with the same kind of riches before them.
Back in Zimbabwe, Mapeza has been a towering coaching figure with the backing of Platinum’s monies, simply the wealthiest club in the country. But he has fallen on his first step outside his comfort zone, Zimbabwe, and it begs the question: how well would someone like Mapeza do as a coach with the same budget, and perhaps the same kind of patience afforded to people like Mosimane? That will only be known, maybe, when Mapeza produces something truly special in his latest Platinum tenure, as his fans believe he can. Or at some time in the future, in charge of a different club within or outside this country.