Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
IS this the biggest fall in African football in the last six months?
In June this year, Rahman Gumbo and Lloyd Mutasa were plotting how to stop Mohamed Salah at the AFCON finals in Cairo.
The duo was part of Sunday Chidzambwa’s backroom staff with Gumbo the second man in charge of the Warriors.
Mutasa was the third man in charge of the senior national football team.
Gumbo, who has coached the Warriors before, was even left in charge of the team’s final match at the COSAFA tournament in South Africa.
Chidzambwa and Mutasa had taken other members of the Warriors to Nigeria for a friendly international against the Super Eagles which ended in a goalless draw.
However, a few months after Mutasa and Gumbo guided the Warriors at the last AFCON finals, the duo find themselves at the bottom of the pile in the domestic Premiership.
Their failure to save TelOne from relegation from the top-flight league, after the team lost on the final day of the season, has raised eyebrows.
Given their high-profile status, of being tasked with guiding the Warriors at the AFCON finals, the spectacular fall from grace has provoked debate.
Questions are now being asked if this represents the biggest fall, for any coach who was at the last Nations Cup finals or, maybe, in the history of the game on the continent?
On Sunday, TelOne joined Chapungu, Mushowani and Hwange in plunging into Division One football.
Yesterday, Soccer Coaches’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Newsome Mutema said the duo should be judged on the job they did at TelOne and not targeted simply because they were with the national team.
“Their work at TelOne has nothing to do with being Warriors assistant coaches,’’ said Mutema.
‘‘Those two things are different and we should not judge them based on that but just on the work they did at TelOne if you are talking about the Premiership.
“They were hired to steer the team from relegation, that was their mandate and that’s what should be discussed.’’
Mutema said the national team and the local sides were different assignments
“There are two scenarios here,’’ he said. ‘‘When you are coaching a national team, the quality of players you have at your disposal is different from the ones you have at club level.
‘‘It is easier to coach Marvellous Nakamba compared to a player who is playing in the local league.
‘‘A player like Nakamba has been exposed to the highest levels in terms of tactics, technique and fitness, so you have less work and challenges dealing with such players than drilling a whole TelOne team which have many players playing in the Premier League for the first time.
“So you cannot really compare the two.
“Those guys joined the team when it was already in the danger zone, so they were firefighting from the first day.’’
Former Premiership player and respected football analyst Bothwell Mahlengwe said the failure of former Warriors technical coaches cannot be treated in isolation.
“With Zimbabwean football, at the moment, there are two or three issues,’’ said Mahlengwe, who says he will only return to watch domestic Premiership when Herentals owner Innocent Benza retires.
“The players aren’t as enthusiastic as they used to be. I can’t say they are less talented but the hunger to develop the talent is not there.
‘‘Naturally, the game has suffered from that. You see potential but that potential is not realised at the right age. Look at Joel Ngodzo and King Nadolo.
“Then we have the coaches whom I think didn’t benefit the so-called training that they have been doing.
‘‘Or, it is wrong type of training for our national game that they got. We have so many supposedly highly trained coaches but the quality of the players and the game doesn’t tally.
‘‘Now one wonders what the real problem is. Is it the type of coaching clinics or the implication thereof?’’
Mahlengwe said there were more questions than answers in the domestic Premiership and, sadly, the right questions were not being asked.
He said the irony was that Mutasa and Gumbo could have survived to fight for another season had Herentals not won their final game in Bulawayo.
“You have two highly regarded coaches who were assistants at the Nations Cup failing to save a team from relegation,’’ he said.
‘‘One of them managed to save one club from relegation when he was a player/coach, when he didn’t have these so-called CAF coaching formulas.
‘‘And the other has one several top-flight championships in different countries. So, what happened this time around? Is it the coaches? Is it the players?
“What boggles the mind the most is that they failed to survive where a 48-year-old Innocent Benza-led Herentals managed to survive.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint what the problem is really but our football has suffered, and suffered badly.’’