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Warriors coach debacle: Paying the price for living in the past



SOME of us grew up on a dose of endless tales about the supposedly amazing things that Lincoln Mutasa did in a bygone era as boss of Dynamos, Zimbabwe’s most successful football club.


You can imagine then how it was with fervent anticipation in July 2023 that we welcomed the man’s much hyped unveiling by Fifa as head of the Zimbabwean FA’s so-called Normalisation Committee, it being part of conditions for the country’s return to the international fold following a 17-month expulsion by the sport’s global governing body.

Hope has however been fading fast, at the same uncomfortable speed as it is for an old-fashioned bureaucrat from the 80s so left behind by time to be able to catch up with the progressive changes of today’s football.  

Under the NC’s watch, Zimbabwe has had two foremost interim coaches since September 2023. But in April, the temporary committee of Zifa did in fact advertised for the post of substantive head coach for the Warriors, attracting overwhelming high-profile interest for from far and wide across the globe.

The next batch of World Cup qualifiers will be this June, which, come to think of it, will be under yet another caretaker Warriors coach.

He is Jairos Tapera, who despite riding high at the moment in Zimbabwe’s top-flight league, has his appointment coming out of the blue. So are his two assistants for the two key games.

Yet the Zifa transitional executive tells us, in making the interim appointments on Friday, that they have identified the country’s next substantive head coach, to be announced in June after the back-to-back qualifiers.

This to me sounds like a lame excuse – a cowardly way out of making a bold and very important decision, a decision that the NC has been clearly afraid to make.

What is this new full-time coach’s identity if he exists, and why can’t he not go straight to work now? Why must the nation gamble – experiment with an unproven combination in the dug-out in two crucial World Cup qualifiers against a Lesotho team that forced an impressive draw away in Nigeria in November and a South Africa side that has its tails up following an admirable outing at the Africa Cup of Nations?

Why, again, is the NC acting as if there are any guarantees beyond these two forthcoming matches? It could be Baltemar Brito that they have decided to bring back to take over on fulltime basis. It could be former Africa Cup of Nations winner Winfried Schäfer. It could be Bruce Grobbelaar, a Zimbabwe and Liverpool legend with all his charisma and magnetism.

But by that time, the vibe may have died down. Let’s see. For now, though, what Fifa presented us last July as a lifeline – guided by supposed wisdom from the past – is turning to be a nightmare.