HARARE – People on a Tuesday morning bus between Harare and Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s two largest cities – were rather surprised by the identity of one of the passengers aboard.

They would confirm that the passenger, who was traveling alone, was indeed their new national football team coach, Baltemar Brito, once a trusted lieutenant of the world famous Jose Mourinho.

Brazil-born Brito was an assistant coach under Mourinho at three European clubs – Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan.

Last year Brito ventured into the unknown territory of African football after he was appointed head coach of Zimbabwean club giants Highlanders, the heartbeat of the country’s second city Bulawayo.

Brito led Highlanders to a 19-match unbeaten run this season and if the Bulawayo side go on the win the league title at the end of the year, it will be its first since 2006.

Last week, Brito was elevated to the position of Zimbabwe’s national team interim coach following the southern African country’s readmission into international football after a 17-month Fifa ban.

Baltemar Brito with Jose Mourinho in their Chelsea days.

He will guide Zimbabwe, nicknamed the Warriors, in World Cup qualifiers beginning November.

But for now, the Warriors will face neighbours Botswana in an invitational match in Gaborone this week.

It will be 71-year-old Brito’s first game in charge of Zimbabwe, so he took the 446-km bus trip to the capital Harare to begin training camp ahead of the Botswana trip. The journey between Bulawayo and Harare lasts nearly six hours by road.

Prominent Zimbabwean journalist and sportswriter Robson Sharuko on X shared a selfie taken by his friend William Dhliwayo, who was among those traveling. Dhliwayo captured himself smiling, sitting next to Brito in the bus.

Daily flights between the Bulawayo and Harare, which take just 35 minutes, are available and it wasn’t clear why the new national team coach took the longer road trip.

Zimbabwe’s football federation, whose finances are often in shambles, is currently under the administration of a temporary committee put in place after the Fifa suspension was lifted in July.


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