Chiefs eye Mapeza

HARARE - Following his success at FC Platinum, Norman Mapeza, has since emerged as one of the strong candidates shortlisted to take over at South Africa’s Absa Premiership giants Kaizer Chiefs for the 2018/19 season.

Apart from rumours linking him with Kaizer Chiefs, the former Warriors coach is also heavily linked with three more unnamed teams in the Super Diski.

Chiefs are currently without a coach following the departure of Steve Komphela in April this year.

Komphela quit his post just a couple of months shy of his three-year contract coming to an end, following a fan invasion at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban after losing 2-0 to Free State Stars in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

Following the departure of Komphela, Patrick Mabedi took charge of the team’s remaining matches on an interim basis and team manager Bobby Motaung has ruled out the possibility of the former defender taking up the role on a permanent basis.

Gavin Hunt, Luc Eymael, Stuart Baxter, Nikola Kavazovic, Doctor Khumalo and Eric Tinkler are among some of the coaches who have been linked with the Chiefs coaching job.

However, Mapeza has emerged as one of the candidates the Soweto giants are looking at according to sources at Naturena because of the work he has done with the platinum miners since he arrived in Zvishavane in August 2014.

The former Warriors captain and coach was hired to stabilise the club following a difficult start under Lloyd Mutasa.

To his credit, Mapeza managed to lead the platinum miners to a top four finish in the second half of the season.

The following year, there was some marked improvement as the Zvishavane-based side finished in third place just six points behind champions Chicken Inn.

In 2016, FC Platinum had emerged as one of the strongest contenders for the title before narrowly missing out after finishing in second place just two points behind winners CAPS United.

However, after the near misses, Mapeza finally got it right last season when he led Pure Platinum Play to their maiden league title — two points ahead of second-placed Dynamos.

This was Mapeza’s second league title as a coach with the first coming when he was in charge of Monomotapa in 2008.

This season, FC Platinum appear on course to defend their title as they currently sit top of the table with 44 points from 18 matches.

Their closest challengers are second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars, who are six points behind.

With a playing career that took him to Turkish giants Galatasary in the 90s, Mapeza’s CV is also bolstered by the fantastic work he did in the two spells he was in charge of the Warriors.

The Daily News is reliably informed that Kaizer Chiefs have since enquired about Mapeza’s availability but were turned down by FC Platinum.

“FC Platinum are aware that there is interest from South African clubs but are not yet ready to release the coach since he has a running contract,” said the source.

“Kaizer Chiefs were really interested and made some enquiries but were turned away. In fact it is not Chiefs alone — there were a number of other South African clubs that also showed some interest but nothing materialised.”

Contacted for comment FC Platinum communications manager Chido Chizondo played down the rumours saying: “We are not aware of that. No one has approached us as yet. We have a contract with Mapeza and he will be our coach for the next two years.”

Mapeza himself refused to entertain the subject saying his concern at the moment is to ensure his team bounced back from last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of ZPC Kariba when they visit Harare to face Yadah FC at the National Sports Stadium on Saturday.

The platinum miners are fully aware that another slip up this weekend might open the door for Ngezi Platinum and the rest of the chasing pack to close the gap at the top of the table.