Zimbabwe confirm Mapeza as coach for Cup of Nations finals

Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza.
Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Norman Mapeza will take charge of Zimbabwe for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon, the country’s football association confirmed on Sunday.

Mapeza continues in the role he took on when he was given a two-month contract in September to complete four World Cup qualifiers after the firing of Croatian Zdravko Logarusic. Though Zimbabwe failed to win any of those four matches and finished bottom of their group, Mapeza had always expected to be retained. But that had been thrown into doubt last week when the football association named him as coach and then rescinded the decision within 24 hours.

The final confirmation, however, ensures that 49-year-old Mapeza will be in charge when the tournament kicks off on January 9. The Zimbabwe Football Association board was suspended last month by the government but won a court order to block the decision. They are accused of embezzling state funds provided for player payments and preparatory costs ahead of the previous Cup of Nations finals in 2019 and the mixed messages over Mapeza’s appointment came amid a continuing power tussle.

Mapeza will take former Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari as his assistant for the Cup of Nations finals, local media reported. Zimbabwe open their Group B campaign against Senegal in Bafoussam on January 10 and also play Guinea and Malawi in their group. It is the third successive time that Zimbabwe have qualified for the tournament and the third different coach they have employed.

Mapeza, who played at Galatasaray in Turkey, has coached FC Platinum to the Zimbabwe league title and has had three previous stints as Zimbabwe coach.

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