HARARE – Zimbabwe has opted for a surprise appointment in the form of little-known local coach Jairos Tapera for June’s crucial World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and South Africa, sparking heated outcry from fans over the federation’s choice.

Tapera – whose appointment is on caretaker basis for the duration of those two games – will be assisted by fellow locals Takesure Chiragwi and Saul Chaminuka, also of modest reputation.

A Normalisation Committee of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa), which was thrust into office by Fifa last July after the Southern African country’s 17-month ban was lifted, has been reluctant to appoint a substantive coach for the Warriors arguing that it cannot do so because it is a temporary body.

Zimbabwe opened its World Cup quest last November with back-to-back ties against Rwanda and Nigeria, both yielding draws under the tutelage of the Brazilian-born Baltemar Brito, who was interim coach.

Brito, a former assistant coach of Jose Mourinho at Porto and Chelsea, made big impression on the vast majority of Zimbabwe’s fans and there was popular demand that he be given the job permanently.

The Normalisation Committee however wasn’t moved an inch and in March it proceeded to appoint another interim coach, former national team captain Norman Mapeza, for a four-nation tournament in Malawi with Zambia and Kenya as the other teams. Zimbabwe lost in the final to the East Africans.

Mapeza was roundly criticised for his “military” management style, forcing star midfielder Jordan Zemura, of Italian Serie A club Udinese, to publicly declare that he wouldn’t play for the Warriors ever again under the former Warriors skipper.

Now the temporary FA has surprisingly taken the interim route again, two weeks before important fixtures, despite having advertised for the full-time position months ago and receiving applications from some top-class global coaches.

Zifa, however, said in a statement on Friday that it has settled for a new substantive coach to be announced after the June World Cup qualifiers and a regional Southern African tournament in the same month.  

This nonetheless hasn’t lessened the frustration of fans, who took to X to vent at the federation’s announcement.

“God, who are they?!”, Admire Mangoma reacted to the new choice of coaches.

“When this NC was appointed, I had some hope. Now it’s all dead…” said one Bossso.

“Disheartening to say the least. Despite hopes for a fresh start and positive changes, it seems that the normalisation of the association has fallen short of expectations. The continued lack of transparency, accountability, and good governance. Kamambo (sacked federation boss Felton Kamambo) was better,” posted Gafadegea.

Tatenda added: “What’s so difficult about hiring a substantive coach?”

Tapera, the newest interim coach, is currently in charge of local top-flight Manica Diamonds. He has enjoyed a good run lately after facing the axe earlier in the season following a bad start. The youthful Chiragwi guided Ngezi Platinum to the club’s first league title last year, while Chaminuka also coaches locally.

Sunday Chidzambwa, who qualified Zimbabwe to its first Africa Cup of Nations tournament 20 years ago as head coach, will be the technical advisor for the two qualifiers.

Homeless Zimbabwe will play both matches against Lesotho and Bafana Bafana in South Africa due to a Fifa ban on the country’s substandard stadiums. The Lesotho tie is technically a home game for the Warriors.


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