AFTER weeks of gleaning through the applications and CVs brought before them, the Zifa Technical and Development Committee members are set to convene next weekend to deliberate on the identity of the new man to take over the reins of the Zimbabwe national football team coaching post.
The committee’s chairman Bryton Malandule told our Harare Bureau that they are aiming to settle for the best candidate after receiving about 14 applications, mainly from Eastern Europe, and only one domestic.
Because of the composition of the applications, the probability is greater that a foreign coach will land the job. But ZIFA face a huge challenge because the perennially broke association lack the kind of resources to hire an expatriate coach, worse with his wages having to be paid in foreign currency.
The Warriors job fell vacant following the resignation of veteran Sunday Chidzambwa on the back of a poor outing at the 2019 Afcon tournament in Egypt.
“Resources permitting we want that coach who can add extra value to the quality that we already have in the calibre of our players. But we will obviously be guided by our finances,” said Malandule.
“As you know, foreign coaches don’t come cheap. Their salaries are usually pegged high up there and we should be able to meet his wage bill.
“But remember we are in Zimbabwe where football does not enjoy sound financial backing locally. Of course we get Fifa grants as an association but there is no portion to pay coaches. Usually the funds are directed to specific areas like development, women’s football, referees and football operations.
“Fifa doesn’t give us money to pay coaches. In other countries like Zambia their government plays an active role in securing the salaries and welfare of national team coaches.
“We hope the same should happen here because every year we present our budgets to the Government via the Sports Commission stating all the income and expenses that we expect during the year.
“We cannot run away from the fact that finances play a major role in the recruitment of the national team coach. It doesn’t make sense to recruit a coach today and agree on the figures which we will not be able to pay three months down the line.
“So we need to be honest with ourselves as Zifa and as a country that do we have the resources to hire a certain foreign coach? Remember the cases of Valinhos and Tom Saintfeit? Fifa does not take it lightly when you fail to pay your foreign coaches as per agreement.
“Then there is this issue of how that coach will be paid. It’s a non-starter to bring a foreign coach here and then pay him in RTGS. That we can do with a local coach because it’s the acceptable currency in Zimbabwe.
“So, it needs a lot of buy-in from various stakeholders, Government being the major one. It’s also possible for the authorities to chip in via Government-to-Government arrangements in the same way that brought (german coaches) Reinhard Fabisch and Klaus Dieter Pagels,” said Malandule.
Zifa are keen not to repeat the same old mistakes that got them banned from the 2018 World Cup after failing to pay Brazilian coach Valinhos US$81 000. They also lost a labour case against Belgian Saintfeit who was the last foreign coach for Zimbabwe after a botched deal which cost Zifa US$180 000 despite the coach lasting only one day.
Local coaches Callisto Pasuwa and Norman Mapeza, who also took over the reins afterwards, are also owed substantial amounts.
The Warriors coaching job has attracted interest from all over the world. Altough Malandule was not keen to discuss the candidates, two Serbian nationals Micho and Kosta Papic, who had stints with South African giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs respectively, are among the foreign contingent that threw in their applications.
Micho presided over the Uganda national soccer team for four years, guiding them to the 2017 Afcon finals for the first time since 1978.
Experienced former Macedonia gaffer Janevski Cedomir, who has also coached top clubs in Europe, has registered his interest in the job after submitting his credentials to ZIFA for consideration.
Portuguese national Vaz Pinto is also understood to be in the running for the job. The Portuguese coached in Angola and Ethiopia, taking charge of Recreativo Libobo of Angola.
Belgian Jean Francois Losciuto, Dutch coach Erol Akaby, who has coached local sides Highlanders and Ngezi Platinum before, German Hans Michael Weiss and 51-year-old Spanish coach Marquez Roca are the other candidates.
It has also emerged that Leicester City’s International Academy head coach Alistair Heath has also submitted his papers for consideration. Only one Zimbabwean, believed to be Joey Antipas, applied for the vacant Warriors’ job.
Antipas was in charge of the team on interim basis last year and took them through the first stages of the 2021 Afcon and 2022 World Cup qualifiers. He also helped the Warriors book their date at this year’s CHAN finals to be held in Cameroon in April. His contract expired on December 31 last year.
“We received several applications and the majority of them are from foreign countries, mostly Eastern Europe. It’s interesting because we only got one local against something like 14 foreign applications.
“Maybe it’s an indication that our Warriors are rated highly out there. Some of the guys who applied are employed by reputable teams.
“So the Technical and Development Committee will meet next week and do the shortlisting after having gone through all the CVs. We only recommend based on the technical aspects and it is the board that does the appointment, of course with input from the finance committee.
“I am sure the appointments will take place as soon as possible because we have the World Cup qualifiers coming up in March and also the CHAN finals in Cameroon this April. So it’s proper to give the new coach time to work on his team ahead of these crucial assignments.
“We hope to settle for someone who adds value to our football, someone who is able to work with the group of talented players that we have and someone who understands the modern football techniques.
“I think you have seen it in the past some of our coaches get exposed when we get tougher competition, let’s say at a stage like the Afcon tournament,” said Malandule.