Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
NORMAN Mapeza’s management team say their client’s interests have been safeguarded after the trailblazing gaffer took a huge gamble and plunged into the lion’s den, joining the world’s most turbulent football club.
The 47-year-old coach agreed to a three-year deal to coach South African Premiership side Chippa United, arguably the most chaotic football club in the world in terms of chopping and changing coaches, with more than 20 coaches having come and gone in the past six years.
The last coach in charge lasted just TWO games.
The longest-serving coach, Dan Maselela, was at the club for 402 days in which he took charge of 39 matches while Clinton Larsen, who was sacked this season, is the second longest-serving coach at the team after guiding them to 22 matches in 247 days.
Some of those who have been axed include Manqoba Mnqithi, Julius Dube, Roger Sikhakhane, who spent just 160 days, in which he took charge of 12 games.
The others are Wilfred Mugeyi, Farouk Adams, Ian Palmer, Vladmir Heric, Kosta Papic, Ernest Middendorp and Teboho Moloi. Middendorp is now in charge of Kaizer Chiefs.
Moloi lasted 170 days, taking charge of just 23 games, while the nomadic Mark Harrison, who has coached CAPS United and Harare City in the domestic Premiership, was only at Chippa United for 178 days and in charge of just 14 matches.
Joel Masutha lasted slightly over one month, 39 days to be precise, and guided the team for five games before the inevitable axe fell on him while Eric Tinkler stayed a bit longer, 102 days, and 10 matches in charge of the side.
Mapeza’s manager, Gibson Mahachi, told The Herald yesterday they had taken into consideration issues related to the huge turnover of coaches at Chippa United and came up with clauses, in the contract, that will guarantee the interests of the former FC Platinum gaffer.
“It’s one of the major things that we discussed and there were some clauses in the contract that we were not comfortable with because we felt that they would leave the coach exposed,’’ said Mahachi.
“We discussed those issues, including a clause where they had said they wanted to review the performance of the coach after three games, and we said that wasn’t feasible since the coach is coming into a side that already has players which he didn’t recruit and will need more time to understand the system and make decisions.
“They agreed to waive that and we also got some guarantees that protect the coach and, at the end of the day, we struck some agreement.
“The bottom line is that this is a result-oriented job and whichever way we look at it, whatever we say or want, the results have to be positive and we know that.
“Chippa United were intent that they wanted their man, they believe he suits perfectly into the kind of coach they were looking for, and it’s a chance for Norman to also go there and prove himself that he can make a difference.
“He is a young coach and has his ambitions and, at times, the best guys differentiate themselves from others by the way they are prepared to take risks, to go where others probably fear to go, and Norman is happy with the deal that has been offered and we have taken it.’’
Mahachi said it was Chippa United who made the first move because the club owner felt Mapeza could add real value to his team.
“They said they wanted the coach, because they believe he can bring value to the team, and we discussed a lot of things before we could commit themselves,’’ said Mahachi.
“We completed the deal from here in Harare and we have to wait for the paperwork to be conducted for Norman to then go and start his new job.’’
Reports in the South African media had suggested Mapeza was already in South Africa and was set to be in the stands last night to watch Chippa United battle Bidvest Wits in an ABSA Premiership match.
Mbuyiselo Sambu took charge of the team last night at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Businessman Siviwe Mpengesi, who owns the club, is known for his ruthless streak when it comes to the hiring and firing of coaches.
He is five years younger than Mapeza and arrived in Cape Town, at the age of 18, from his village in the Eastern Cape with not even a penny, nor an education, but only driven by his dreams.
Now, he is a millionaire businessman who has interests in waste management, trucking, print/mail, clothing, security and cleaning services and properties in Cape Town, East London and Johannesburg.
“We are happy to have a coach like Mapeza and we congratulate him. Not only is he highly experienced, but also he is highly regarded by colleagues in the football fraternity,” Mpengesi told Kickoff.com
“He brings a wealth of experience that will no doubt inspire the players and will take the team to greater heights.”
Former Chippa United coach, Masutha, who is now in charge of lower league side Real Kings, had also provided some advice this week to those interested in taking the job.
“You just need to go there with a laptop and the tracksuit you’re wearing, don’t bring anything else,” he told Kick.Off.com
Mapeza is no stranger to South African football after a short stint at Ajax Cape Town during the 2005/2006 season.
But, the gaffer, who won three league championships on the domestic front (two with FC Platinum and one with Monomotapa), has never been at a club as turbulent as Chippa United.
Even some of the players at the team have been coming out now to reveal that the frequent changes in their dressing room were affecting their performance.
“It’s really affecting us. You could see our performance especially in the first half, the way we were playing, players are down, we are not okay, we also feel that pain,” Andile Mbenyane, the most experienced player in the team, said.
Mapeza will become the second Zimbabwean coach in Super Diski with Kaitano Tembo doing well at SuperSport United who will play in the MTN8 Cup final on Saturday in Soweto.