Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
REIGNING Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Coach of the Year Norman Mapeza has quit FC Platinum five years after joining the champions.
Mapeza oversaw 151 league matches and an incredible 90 wins during his hugely successful tenure.
Lizwe Sweswe has been elevated to interim head coach with immediate effect.
Mapeza leaves Pure Platinum Play ahead of tomorrow’s Caf Champions League encounter against UD Songo of Mozambique at Barbourfields Stadium.
In a statement, FC Platinum president George Mawere said the two parties had a mutual separation.
“FC Platinum club wishes to announce the departure of head coach Norman Mapeza from the team through a mutual separation agreement. Norman has been with the team for the past five years and the club would like to thank him for his professionalism, dedication and commitment to the achievement of the club objectives. During his tenure, the club made history by winning back-to-back league titles and reaching the group stages of the prestigious Caf Champions League. The club presidium, fans, executive, management, entire technical and playing staff wish him well in his future endeavours. In the interim, Lizwe Sweswe will be the acting head coach,” reads Mawere’s statement.
However, sources said the temperamental coach addressed players yesterday morning as they prepared to depart for Bulawayo and told them that he was leaving because of “lack of support” from team management.
“He apparently feels someone within the executive wanted him out of the system by failure to beef up the squad. He was not happy that the club failed to bring in big name players during the second transfer window despite losing a number of key and reliable players,” said a source.
Mapeza joined FC Platinum on August 11, 2014, replacing Lloyd Mutasa who had quit, ironically on a Thursday of that month, the same day that he too announced his departure.
During his stint with the 2017 and 2018 league champions, Mapeza recorded 90 league wins, 43 draws and 18 losses.
However, he could not replicate this success on the continental stage, despite guiding Pure Platinum Play to the group stages of the last Caf Champions League campaign. As news of his departure filtered through, the rumour mill went into overdrive about his next destination, with three clubs featuring prominently, Manica Diamonds, Highlanders and South Africa’s Stellenbosch.
Meanwhile, FC Platinum arrived in Bulawayo yesterday morning ahead of their clash against UD Songo, with players that spoke to Chronicle Sport expressing confidence of a good outing despite the shock departure of their gaffer.
“We are here to play football and play we will on Saturday. We remain fully focused and are confident of victory,” said one player.