THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is set to appoint a new coach for the national senior men’s football team, barely two months after announcing Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambga as the substantive coach.
BY KEVIN MAPASURE/
NewsDay Sport can exclusively report that the country’s football mother body is negotiating with a Scottish-born coach, Simon Alexander McMenemy, to take over from the veteran coach, who was confirmed on December 14 last year.
McMenemy (41), according to reliable sources, is already in the country accompanied by his manager and have held negotiations with Zifa.
The sources said the two parties were close to reaching a deal, which would be announced once they iron out a few sticking points.
If McMenemy gets the job, he will become the fifth Warriors coach to be appointed by Zifa since Kalisto Pasuwa’s contract was not renewed following the team’s below par performance at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in January last year.
“Simon and his manager Soltani Sofian of Shengli Sports are already in the country and have met Zifa officials to discuss the possibility of him becoming the national team coach. They have had separate meetings since last week with Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, the association secretary-general Joseph Mamutse and technical director Wilson Mutekede. Simon’s manager flew to Zambia yesterday and is expected back in Harare today (yesterday), when talks are expected to resume. The parties want to keep the negotiations as secretive as possible,” the source said.
“They have agreed on almost everything, and the only sticking point is on the structure of the technical team. Simon wants to bring his own backroom staff, in particular his assistants, but Zifa wants to give him locals that can understudy him and take over at a later stage. But it appears Simon and his manager are willing to compromise on that, so it shouldn’t be a major problem,” the source added.
Zifa yesterday professed ignorance about McMenemy.
“I don’t know about that. We have a substantive coach already and we are happy with him,” Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda, who doubles as the chairperson of the High Performance Committee that recommends candidates for national team coaches, said.
Mamutse said: “I wasn’t around, I only came back on Thursday last week, so I’m not really sure about that. I only overheard someone talking about it, but it’s nothing really. What I know is that Sunday Chidzambga is still the Warriors coach. He hasn’t started work and we don’t have a reason to make changes.”
If McMenemy gets the Warriors job, as is hugely expected, it would be his first major coaching job in his fledgling coaching career.
He is the current manager at Bhayangkara FC in the Indonesian Liga 1.
Previously, he had spells as manager of Maldivian side New Radiant, Indonesia Super League club Pelita Bandung Raya, Mitra Kukar in Indonesia, Dong Tâm Long An in Vietnam, Loyola Meralco Sparks in Philippines and the Philippines national football team.
Before that, he was the assistant coach of English non-league football side Worthing.
No comment could be obtained from Chidzambga, but another source said the veteran coach, who was handed a two-year contract exactly two months ago, is being courted by suitors from outside the country and has asked to be released from his current deal.
Zifa, who have enjoyed good relations with him, are willing to oblige.
Chidzambga was appointed to take charge of the Warriors’ 2019 Afcon campaign, which resumes later this year.
The Warriors, who lead Group G after beating Liberia 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium last year in the Afcon qualifying opener, will play Congo Brazzaville in September in their next group match.
The group also has the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the two top teams in the group qualifying for the Afcon finals to be hosted by Cameroon next year.