May 22, 2024

BRITO DIVIDES ZIFA

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Tadious Manyepo
Sports Reporter
MEMBERS of the ZIFA Normalisation Committee are struggling to find common ground over the appointment of the Warriors coach, amid revelations that a bid to bring back Baltermar Brito has gathered momentum in one faction of the Normalisation Committee.
Lincoln Mutasa’s Zifa has kept the nation guessing, as they dither on the key appointment of a substantive coach for the senior national team and, with just 16 days before Zimbabwe’s return to FIFA World Cup qualifying action, there is no coach yet in place.
The Warriors resume their Group C qualifying campaign with a home clash against Lesotho at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg.
They will then face South Africa at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, four days later.
Under Mutasa, the Warriors have had arguably their worst preparations for a World Cup qualifier, with no clarity as to who is selecting the players and who will be in charge when the team takes to the field at Orlando Stadium.
Mutasa returned from a FIFA meeting in Thailand over the weekend to chair the latest in a series of meetings yesterday, which the Normalisation Committee have been holding to try and find common ground on the choice of coach to settle for.
But as has often been the case with Mutasa’s ZIFA, they have decided against any media updates on the developments around the Warriors and other national teams.
The response from ZIFA chief executive officer Yvonne Mapika Manwa has been that “we will share information once the appointment is confirmed’’.
Zimpapers Sports, however, has it on good authority that there are now strong chances that ex-Highlanders coach Brito, who re-applied for the job, has emerged as the front-runner.
ZIFA’s deadline for applications closed on May 17 and there are indications that more than 100 prospective coaches applied for the job.
Amid the discord on whether to appoint German coach Winfried Schafer or Brito, manoeuvres were also made on Monday night to sound out United States-based Charles Mhlauri for a possible second dance with the Warriors.
It is understood that FIFA officials had recommended that ZIFA re-engage Brito for continuity but the Normalisation Committee appears to have their issues with the Brazilian-born Portuguese.
Brito kick-started the 2026 World Cup qualification campaign when picking two points in as many games after a 0-0 draw against Rwanda and a 1-1 stalemate with Nigeria, with both games taking part at Huye Stadium in Butare, Rwanda in November last year.
With a significant section of football stakeholders, including some members of the ZIFA NC, rooting for the return of the former Highlanders gaffer to the helm of the national team, Zimpapers Sports understands that Brito’s frank review reports after the two games in Rwanda, where the camp was rocked with industrial action by players, are being seen as “just too honest’’.
A source close to the Normalisation Committee revealed yesterday that ZIFA had also toyed with the idea of re-engaging Chicken Inn’s Joey Antipas for the Warriors post.
Questions were, however, posed over Antipas’ eligibility for the position, especially because the Confederation of African Football insists on CAF licence holders or those with the equivalent or superior qualification presiding over the national teams.
“I can tell you that we received over 100 applications from different coaches across the world who want the Warriors job,’’ the source said.
“But given the time frame and the specifications of the man that we need to take the seat, Brito emerged as the top man.
“Naturally, we were supposed to announce him but his appointment has brought a stalemate with others suggesting that he is unfit to take office given his explosive reports after last November’s matches in Rwanda.
“Brito is by some distance the favourite to take the seat but as it stands, members of the ZIFA NC should iron out issues to do with him.”
If those opposed to the appointment of Brito succeed in their attempts to block him, a foreign coach will be appointed with Joey Antipas as the assistant.
“It’s a matter of settling between Brito and a foreigner who will be assisted by Antipas as things stand.
“But that is not to say it’s now cast in stone.”
It was also not immediately clear whether Mhlauri would accept to relocate from his United States base on a substantive basis, as the former CAPS United coach has always had his reservations about the lack of corporate governance at ZIFA.
Mhlauri could not be reached for comment despite efforts to check on his availability for the Warriors.
That ZIFA are also still haggling over the Warriors coach, also suggests that they have closed the door on a possible re-appointment of legendary gaffer Sunday “Mhofu’’ Chidzambwa, who last weekend expressed keenness to return to the job.
Former players Bruce Grobbelaar, Kaitano Tembo, and George Mbwando had also applied for the job but neither appear to have convinced the Normalisation Committee to take them on board.
The Warriors have not had a substantive coach since the departure of Croatian Zdravko Logarusic in 2021.
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza took temporary charge of the team at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon in January 2022 just before the country was suspended from international football by FIFA.
Mapeza also served as an interim coach during a Four-Nation tournament in Malawi, which also featured Zambia and Kenya early last month. Since their appointment by FIFA in July last year, the Normalisation Committee have had Chidzambwa, Brito, and Mapeza presiding over the Warriors, underlining their indecisiveness over this key post.

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