THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has kept Norman Mapeza in suspense over his future with the Warriors following the completion of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers campaign at the weekend.
Zifa appointed Mapeza in September on caretaker basis after the sack of Zdravko “Loga” Logarusic due to Zimbabwe’s poor start to the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers in which they managed a home goalless draw against South Africa and a defeat to Ethiopia.
The FC Platinum coach, however, also found the going tough as he could only watch — as the Warriors suffered back-to-back defeats last month at the hands of Ghana at Cape Coast (3-1) and at the National Sports Stadium (0-1).
He was then handed a disappointing 1-0 defeat in the return leg against Bafana Bafana last week at FNB Stadium before wrapping up his short term contract with a frustrating 1-1 draw against Ethiopia at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
However, despite failing to pick a win Mapeza earned moving plaudits from the opposition coaches he faced in the four matches he presided over.
In a true indication of how the Warriors have improved under Mapeza, Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos last week told South Africa media that despite being victorious “he failed to recognise his team” owing to Zimbabwe’s superiority.
“I am a happy coach tonight (Thursday night) because we won. This was the most important thing for us in this match, but on the other side there is a coach who is not satisfied with the performance,” the Belgian was quoted by Timeslive.
“We played against opponents who were more aggressive than us, who won more duels than us, who had more movements in their team, and I really didn’t recognise my team.
“We were a little bit lucky and we could have lost points, but I am happy that we won the match. But, like I said earlier, I am not satisfied with the performance of the players tonight.”
Again on Sunday Ethiopia coach Wubetu Abate noted how the Warriors have improved from the first match two months ago.
“The team that we played on our ground and today’s (Sunday) team have a little bit different especially on trying to keep the ball. They were comfortable and they were pressing at the back but I saw a better team than the previous one,” Abate said.
Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac was also impressed by how the Warriors battled the Black Stars in back-to-back matches.
After the Warriors were knocked out of the competition in the early stages, Mapeza resorted to use the remaining fixtures to prepare for next year’s Afcon finals in Cameroon, where Zimbabwe are placed in Group B alongside Senegal, Guinea and Malawi.
But after presiding over the four remaining matches in the World Cup qualifiers, it’s not clear yet if Zifa would stick with Mapeza to take the team to the Afcon, whose four appearances ended in the group stages.
Mapeza admitted on Sunday to be in dark regards his Warriors future.
“It’s unfortunate my contract runs after these four games so I can’t talk of any preparations because I don’t know where I’m going to be tomorrow. I can’t talk of any preparations now,” Mapeza said.
The Zifa leadership was by last night still locked in a meeting to review Mapeza’s performance among other things. Association’s communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said there is no decision yet regards the future of Mapeza with the Warriors.
“There is nothing yet regards that issue. It will be communicated as soon the decision is reached,” Gwesela said.