Football

All eyes on Wellington Mpandare

AFTER the chaos that characterised the lead-up to the Warriors’ trip to Malawi, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) have finally seen sense and appointed Wellington Mpandare as the full-time team manager of the Zimbabwe senior men’s national football team.

What is disturbing is that disaster had to strike first — in the trip to Malawi — before Zifa could see sense on the importance of filling that important but then vacant post.

Mpandare might not have been the best man in a pot that included the likes of Agent Sawu, Esrom Nyandoro, Vitalis Takawira and Clement Matawu, but under the circumstances at hand continuity was the key.

With three weeks before the game against Algeria, Zifa certainly needed somebody with experience in that field to avoid the disaster that rocked the Warriors’ trip to Malawi, and they found that man in the form of Mpandare.

Yes, Sawu, Takawira, Nyandoro and Matawu were great players during their days, but nowhere is it written that a football team manager should have been a former or a great player to do that job effectively.

More importantly is the fact that Mpandare has been the Warriors team manager for some time and has built a good relationship with the players as well as good ties with their clubs.

However, the former Gunners and Zimbabwe Under-23 team manager should not get too excited and should prove that he got the job on merit and not through word that is doing rounds within the football fraternity.

Word is that Mpandare was rewarded for staying in Zifa president Felton Kamambo’s corner in his long fight with former Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa.

The fallout has spilled into the courts where Mpandare has been seen in the company of Kamambo.

Interestingly, this was happening during the same time that Zifa were going through the candidates who had applied for the Warriors team manager’s position of which Mpandare was one of the applicants.

Ironically, Mpandare was first appointed Warriors team manager by Chiyangwa before the maverick Harare businessman’s ouster in the contentious Zifa presidential polls of December 2018.

Mpandare is also accused of having been heavily on Zifa’s side instead of that of the players when the Warriors demanded their dues just before the start of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

As the go-in-between the players and Zifa, Mpandare was supposed to be on the players’ side instead of being to the defence of the football-controlling body when disagreements boiled over in Cairo.

It would be interesting to see which stance would Mpandare take in dealing with Zifa considering the circumstances leading to his appointment and the usually huge demands of the Warriors.

Whatever the case is, Mpandare should be warned that the football family is watching and his closeness to those at the top of the game will not protect him should he fail to do his job efficiently.

Mpandare also has his soiled name to repair and protect. This was after allegations also surfaced that he demanded payment from some foreign-based players to influence their call-up to the national team.

This might just be all talk, but there is a saying that goes, there is no smoke without fire. Such rumours are bound to resurface in future when players deemed not good enough are called up for national duty.

Fine, Mpandare has a long-term contract with Zifa, but how many people had contracts with the football federation but lost their jobs long before and are still waiting for their payouts from the contract termination?

The former Gunners frontman can also go the same way and the first two games against Algeria in November would be the starting point to see which route he would be taking, as blunders — in that assignment — would not do any good to his name.

However, how Mpandare came in, and who brought him, should not count. What Zimbabwean football followers want is to see their beloved Warriors enjoying themselves in camp, their allowances and bonuses paid, and for that matter, in time, and without hassles. That is all. ■

Source
The Standard
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