The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Rahman Quits Warriors

RAHMAN GUMBO is set to step down from his job as Warriors head coach this morning ahead of a full Zifa board meeting later in the day at which the former FC Platinum's coach fate is to be decided. Gumbo has increasingly come under pressure after the Warriors shock failure to qualify for the 2-13 African Cup of Nations finals scheduled for South Africa.

The seasoned coach somehow escaped the hangman's noose when the Zifa board announced earlier this month that they were disbanding the Warriors following their defeat by Angola in Luanda which ended Zimbabwe's hopes of a return to the Nations Cup fold.

Despite Zifa having spared him the axe, there has been a growing chorus of discontent over the association's strange decision to blame the Warriors failure only on the players and sparing the coaches.

But The Herald can reveal that the Zifa board will have some tough decisions to make at their indaba this afternoon as the review of the Warriors failed campaign once again features on their agenda.

Last Saturday, an emergency board meeting also considered the technical report that Gumbo presented as well as submissions from the technical committee that also reviewed the senior team's poor show.

Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze last night declined to discuss much about the board meeting, which is also expected to complete the remainder of the Asiagate bans for fear of pre-emptying their discussions.

"All I can say is that our board meeting has been brought forward by a day and instead of being held on Friday we are now going to have it tomorrow (today). The meeting is also in preparation for our assembly EGM on Saturday and it will continue with the on-going discussion on the Asiagate penalties and the review of the Warriors 2013 AFCON campaign," Gumbo said.

But whether Zifa decide to fire Gumbo or the coach is likely to be the honourable way to move on, will resign, it has emerged that the former Highlanders mentor will not be part of the Warriors dressing when the senior team resume their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign early next year.

With Zifa insisting that they are seeking a fresh start for the Warriors, the message has been a veiled indication that such a new beginning could only be effective if implemented by a new gaffer. The Warriors also needed a coach who would not be haunted by the Luanda disaster in which the senior team's Nations Cup dreams went up in smoke in just the opening six minutes in which they conceded two goals to eventually fall by the away goal's rule.

Gumbo's men had led 3-1 from the first leg.

Despite Gumbo keeping a tight lid on his intentions since that disastrous day in Luanda, it is thought the veteran coach has been also been seriously weighing his options with a view to "stepping down in the best interests of the game".

Such a move could also mean that Gumbo retains some measure of respect as very few Warriors coaches have previously taken full responsibility for the senior team's failure and opted to throw in the towel.

Sources close to Zifa also indicated that Gumbo's imminent exit also means the end of the road for his technical department which also included assistants David Mandigora and Peter Ndlovu, goalkeepers' coach Richard Tswatswa and team manager Nyika Chifamba.

"It is one of those few meetings where the Zifa board has to make tough decisions on the future of the Warriors technical team either by firing the coaches, retaining them or waiting for them to resign which of course is very rare with local national coaches. But a decision has to be made whichever way and the pressure that has been mounting on the association in the wake of the Warriors failure is likely to be taken into account by both the board and the technical department themselves," the sources said.

It however seemed to pint to an option where Gumbo would resign and gracefully step aside after failing to make an impact on his second dance with the Warriors, eight years after he was fired by the Rafik Khan leadership.

Gumbo had succeeded Sunday Chidzambwa after the 2004 Nations Cup when he was fired in September of that year after the Warriors were humiliated by Nigeria at the National Sports Stadium in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup and African Cup of Nations.

While there was a greater degree of sympathy for Gumbo despite losing to a star-studded Nigeria that included Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha, Julius Agahowa and Yakubu, the whole nation this time appeared united in the chorus of blame on the coach for the manner in which Zimbabwe blew a first leg lead to lose in Angola.

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