Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
Warriors interim coach Joey Antipas yesterday sensationally announced his departure from the national team, a day after masterminding the downfall of Zambia in a Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Heroes Stadium in Zambia.
The Warriors, against all odds, shocked the 2012 African champions 2-1 through a brace by poster boy Khama Billiat to register Zimbabwe’s first win over Chipolopolo in an Afcon qualifier. The two teams had previously met four times with Zambia recording two wins while the other encounters ended in stalemates.
Antipas leaves the national team after being at the helm for six matches in which he recorded three wins, two draws and one loss in three different competitions, posting a 61,12 percent successrate.
“I take a bow,” said Antipas whose local club Chicken Inn is in the hunt for their second league title in five years.“I was only in charge for six games up to December 2019,” he said.
The two times championship winning coach with now defunct Motor Action and Chicken Inn had a nightmarish take off in the national team, guiding the Warriors to an embarrassing 0-1 loss to Somalia in a Fifa 2022 World Cup qualifier first leg preliminary round match in Djibouti.
On the verge of an early elimination from the World Cup qualifying race, Zimbabwe turned on a last minute magic at the National Sports Stadium in the return leg to beat the Somalis 3-1 on the day and advance 3-2 on aggregate.
The Warriors followed that up with a 3-1 first leg home win over Lesotho in the Chan final qualifier before posting a 0-0 result in the second leg of the same competition and when the Afcon games race got underway, The Zebras of Botswana were their first opponents at home last Friday at the National Sports Stadium.
Having been held by Botswana, little or no chance was given for Zimbabwe as they trooped into the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Tuesday evening but a top drawer, tactically disciplined performance saw the boys post a memorable win to give Antipas a befitting send off from the national team dugout.
With Chan finals getting underway in January next year in Cameroon, Zifa must now quickly find Antipas’ replacement or negotiate with him for possible contract renewal.
The whole technical bench team of Antipas, his assistants Tonderai Ndiraya and Lloyd Chitembwe as well as goalkeepers’ coach Tembo Chuma are attached to local clubs with Antipas, Ndiraya and Chitembwe as head coaches in their respective clubs.
To therefore have them in Cameroon during crucial preseason preparatory times in January and early February will be catastrophic to their clubs.
Unattached coaches like Bongani Mafu, Philani Mabhena, Moses Chunga, Philani Ncube, Peter “Captain Oxo” Nkomo might be considered for the Chan tournament unless the cash strapped Zifa settles for a foreign coach.
Zifa competitions and communications manager Xolisani Gwesela promised to give the association’s position today.
“I will only be able to give you our position tomorrow after consultations with my superiors,” he said.
Antipas’ Warriors record
P W D L F A Pts
Success rate: 61,12 %.