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Baltemar Brito observes the Zimbabwe national anthem before the Warriors' clash with Nigeria last month.


Zifa, Brito in contract limbo after coach’s Highlanders exit



BALTEMAR Brito, Zimbabwe’s interim football coach, will also be out of work soon with the national side following local club Highlanders’ decision to dismiss him.


Zimbabwean football giants Highlanders announced this week that they will not renew 71-year-old Brito’s contract after the Brazil-born Portuguese national failed to guide the country’s oldest club to its first league title since 2006.

Bulawayo-based Highlanders were the first to bring Brito to the country before Zimbabwe’s national football federation, Zifa, decided they also needed his expertise.

Highlanders hired Brito mid-2022 with the hope that José Mourinho’s former assistant coach would restore the legendary club to its former glory.

In July this year, Brito was then also appointed Zimbabwe’s caretaker coach after the country came out of its 17-month suspension by world football governing body Fifa.

With Brito’s Highlanders deal ending this December, it has emerged that a Zifa normalisation committee had only employed him within the same period, to avoid contractual and work permit complications.

And now with Highlanders having parted ways with the coach, it leaves Brito also out of employment with Zifa at the end of the year.

Lincoln Mutasa, head of Zifa’s temporary body, revealed to The NewsHawks that his committee will “soon meet” to determine affable Brito’s future in Zimbabwe.

Brito is however likely to get an extension on his deal following a decent start to his tenure as Warriors coach in back-to-back opening qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup finals.

Zimbabwe have started with two draws against Rwanda and Nigeria. The Warriors were the better side last month in their 1-1 stalemate with African power Nigeria – six-time World Cup participants.

The World Cup qualifiers will resume in June 2024, with this particular campaign offering a chance to such sides as Zimbabwe, who have never been to the tournament before.

For the first time, nine teams from Africa will qualify directly for the 48-team 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada. A 10th team from the continent could make the field through the playoffs.

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