RAHMAN GUMBO has been installed as the substantive Warriors after the former FC Platinum gaffer was given the mandate to oversee Zimbabwe's remaining 2013 African Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns.
But Zifa could not immediately announce the length of Gumbo's tenure amid revelations that the association is still hamstrung by the fact that they also have another running contract with suspended coach Norman Mapeza.
Mapeza was suspended together with all players and administrators who were fingered in the Asiagate match-fixing scam at the beginning of the year.
However, with the Justice Ebrahim Independent Ethics Committee taking longer than anticipated to conclude their findings into the Asiagate probe, Zifa found themselves needing to appoint a coach for the Nations Cup qualifying which began with a first round assignment away to Burundi in March.
The 2014 World Cup qualifiers then started in June with the Warriors hosting Guinea at the National Sports Stadium and it was Gumbo who presided over the starts of both campaigns, albeit on an interim basis as he was still doubling up as the FC Platinum coach.
The Zifa board keen to avoid continuing to have a caretaker coach in charge of the Warriors, met in Harare on Saturday and resolved to appoint a coach on a longer term basis.
All but three members - vice president Ndumiso Gumede, board member (finance) Elliot Kasu and Nigel Munyati, the board member (marketing) - attended the first of the Zifa leadership's back to back board meetings.
Although Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze was yesterday cautious in his statement over their decision on the man who will preside over the Warriors against Angola in the final Nations Cup qualifier, the fact that Gumbo met with the association's president Cuthbert Dube to discuss contractual terms confirmed that he had indeed been given the mandate to coach the senior national side.
Gumbo also later met with his technical crew after which they named a 24-man side for the Warriors' international friendly against African Champions Zambia in Ndola on August 8.
Mashingaidze also acknowledged that Zifa would still need to deal with the technicality involved with the fact that Mapeza remains the substantive Warriors coach who is only serving suspension.
Mapeza could yet be cleared by the Ebrahim committee and Zifa would have to find an amicable way of resolving that technicality.
Although there may be complications around the Mapeza issue, the Zifa board noted that the Warriors needed to prepare for their final qualifying showdown with Angola with those preparations starting next week when a group of locally-based players travel to Zambia.
"The board resolved that a substantive coach be appointed and that the appointment be reguralised around a roadmap which rakes into account the competence skills, the targets at hand, conditions of service, deliverables and the general contractual framework and the issue of resourcing that person and the technical department.
"That person will take charge of the friendly matches in Zambia and the Four-nation tournament in Uganda in preparation of the massive game against Angola.
"The board also resolved that the coach needs its united support so that he can succeed in the challenges that the national team faces. It would be a decision that the board would have to live with for the rest of their tenure and a decision which the family of football would have to appreciate.
"The board should be meeting again on Saturday to discuss the benchmarks and the implementation of the roadmap taking cognisance of the fact that we are 180 minutes away from a place at the Nations Cup finals and we cannot afford to take any chances," Mashingaidze said.
Repeated efforts to reach Gumbo for comment failed, but sources revealed last night that the coach had during his indaba with Dube agreed to Zifa's conditions and committed himself to the Warriors job.
"The board felt that it would be illogical to hire a coach from Brazil, Spain or Mars now and decided that they had to work with a local coach. Rahman also indicated his commitment to the Warriors job and his preparedness to work harder to try and qualify for the Nations Cup," the source said.
Gumbo is reportedly also keen to identify the local players he could possibly blend with the foreign legion for the tough clash against the Palancas Negras at Rufaro on September 9.
The coach also had another chance to assess the local arsenal at his disposal when the Warriors travelled to Botswana two weeks ago for a three-team tournament that also featured Lesotho.
In the squad announced by team manager Nyika Chifamba last night, which is expected to assemble at Zifa House on August 6, Gumbo retained the core of the side which lost 1-0 to Botswana and thumped Lesotho 5-2 at the invitational tourney in Molepolele.
That side includes exciting Highlanders midfielder Peter Moyo, the Hwange strike pair of Rodwell Chinyengetere and Francisco Zvikumbaware and emerging CAPS United defender Blessing Zabula who has hardly put a foot wrong since his mid-season arrival at Makepekepe from Eastern Region Division One side Triangle.
Gumbo has also included talented Dynamos midfielder Denver Mukamba who had a good game on his return to the Glamour Boys in their 1-0 Premiership Harare derby win over CAPS United at Rufaro and the top-flight's leading scorer Nelson Mazivisa.
Mukamba did not travel to Botswana as he was still holed up at South African Premiership side Bidvest Wits where he was trying to ink a deal to join the Johannesburg club.
Warriors squad for Zambia:
Goalkeepers: Ariel Sibanda, George Chigova, Francis Tizai, Marlon Jani
Defenders: Passmore Bernard, Godfrey Moyo, Partson Jaure, Arnold Chaka, Khumbulani Banda, Blessing Zabula, Bruce Kangwa, Innocent Mapuranga
Midfielders: Brian Mapfumo, Denver Mukamba, Danny Phiri, Ronald Chitiyo, Peter Moyo, Mandla Sibanda, Prosper Matizanadzo
Strikers: Nelson Mazivisa, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Rahman Kutsanzira, Charles Sibanda, Francisco Zvikumbaware