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Mystery over Norman Mapeza departure deepens

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Mystery over Mapeza departure deepens. The mystery surrounding Norman Mapeza’s shock departure from Chippa United deepened yesterday with both parties keeping the matter under wraps because of contractual issues.

The Zimbabwean gaffer threw in the towel on Monday night after meeting the club’s owner, Siviwe Chippa Mpengesi, and telling him he was unhappy that some players appeared not playing to their full potential because of the politics at the club.

Sources suggested Mapeza was advised by some of the players that they had been told to under-perform, by some of the team’s leaders in what is the world’s most chaotic football club, to ensure the former Warriors coach would be fired.

The axe, according to the sources, was supposed to fall at the weekend but Mapeza managed to arrest a recent slide and inspire his men to a crucial win. The ugly divorce came just a month after Mpengesi called Mapeza the Pitso Mosimane of Zimbabwean football and placed a R20 million (about US$1,384m) release clause on the former Warriors skipper to deter potential suitors.

The Cape Town-based tycoon, known for firing coaches, says he is proud to have finally recruited a gaffer who knows what he is doing, who has a track record of success, and who has already made a huge difference in the short time he has been in charge of his team.

‘‘Coaches must not be afraid of being fired,’’ he said. ‘‘They must trust their players. Coach Mapeza, he is protected, even if we want to fire him, it won’t be easy. I’m happy (his agents) did that but, also, he must pay us a lot of money, if another club wants to take Norman, they must come with a big bag of cash.’’

Asked what amount would be needed to take away Mapeza from his stable, Mpengesi said the club that wants him would have to part away with R20 million. ‘‘Currently, Norman is one of the top coaches, he is the Pitso of Zimbabwe,’’ said Mpengesi, who also revealed he was paying Mapeza an attractive package.

‘‘It’s confidential,’’ he said. ‘‘You can ask him, from Zimbabwe to South Africa, I’m sure he is happy. For the first time, we have a coach who has achieved five clean sheets.’’ He said some clubs appear to be interested in Mapeza, but did not have the money to get him out of Chippa United.

Mpengesi said Mapeza had always been on their radar and could possibly have joined them at the start of the season, but the coach might have been discouraged from making the giant leap by people who claimed that coaches did not last at Chippa United.

It emerged yesterday that the businessman was still trying to persuade Mapeza to stay.

“Chippa United tried without a success to persuade Norman Mapeza to stay as the club’s head coach. The chairman (Mpengesi), being someone known for firing coaches, was the one pleading with the coach to stay this time, but to no avail,” said the source.

According to sources, the Zimbabwean mentor highlighted that he felt some of the players didn’t give him the respect he needed as he found them at the club, and did not sign them when he joined.

Mapeza was absent at training yesterday and former Platinum Stars defender Mbuyiselo Sambu has taken charge in preparation for the league clash against Bidvest Wits on Saturday (20h15).

Some sources said he could move to Amazulu who placed their coach, Jozef Vukusic, on leave and replaced him with Ayanda Dlamini and Moeneeb Josephs in preparing for the upcoming match against log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

Dlamini coached the Durban-based club’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge team before being roped in as Vukusic’s assistant in the first team three weeks ago, while Josephs has never coached any professional club before.

“I don’t comment on that . . . what you are saying. I can’t comment on that. I can’t comment on anything because I need to see people and speak to people. After that, I can say something. I haven’t read anything, so I don’t know what you are saying now,” Vukusic told the Siya crew.

Last month, AmaZulu put five senior players Thembela Sikhakhane, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Michael Morton, Jabulani Ncobeni and Nhlanhla Vilakazi on a ‘‘special training programme’’.

The players have been absent from the matchday squads amid the current relegation battle, while former assistant coach Mabhuti Khenyeza jumped ship to take charge of TS Galaxy in the second-tier league. AmaZulu returned to South Africa’s top tier league in 2017, after purchasing the status of Thanda Royal Zulu, who was recently promoted at the time.

Usuthu had been relegated to the second tier at the end of the 2014/15 season and struggled to fight their way back to the elite league. Chippa United fans were reeling yesterday after the resignation of Mapeza. Here’s a glimpse into what fans had to say:

@East God: ‘‘Norman Mapeza resigned at Chippa Utd . . . something is fundamentally wrong at that club

@SibandaBlessed: Norman Mapeza is a great coach. This was just a highlight of what he can do. From here he can only rise. If I were his manager I would advise him to stick around.’’

@MrCow_Man: This is probably the first time a coach is not fired but quit at Chippa United. — Sports Reporter/Agencies.

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