Chidzambwa – did he jump, was he pushed?

sunday__mhofu_chidzambwaJOHANNESBURG On September 9, the South African soccer media was awash with reports that Sunday Chidzambwa (pictured) was likely to get the boot as Free State Stars coach, just three games into the 2010/11 league season.

A few days later, Ea Lla Koto’s spokesperson, Rantsi Mokoena, rubbished the reports, saying that the Zimbabwean was their trump card as they sought to return the club to its former glory.

However, 11 days later, Mokoena revealed that his club would hold a meeting with the former Zimbabwe national team coach, which would map the way forward for the club.

This was two days after Chidzambwa had seen his team grind out its third successive draw of the season a 1-1 stalemate with newly promoted Vasco da Gama, who had not tasted a point in their previous two games. Writing on the wall!

Family issues

After the meeting, Mokoena told The Zimbabwean on Sunday that Chidzambwa had thrown in the towel at the club, becoming the second former Warriors mentor to leave Stars in less than a year, after Brazilian Claudio Jose Georgini Claudei Valinhos, ironically Mhofus predecessor as Warriors Coach about two seasons ago.

According to Mokoena, Mhofu, who dumped the Zimbabwe national team for a R120 000 a month job at Ea Lla Koto during the pre-season, cited personal reasons for his resignation.

Chidzambwa himself kept his reasons for leaving under wrap, only telling the media that he was quitting South Africa to attend to urgent family issues back home.

He requested to be released from his contract so that he could return to his home country for personal reasons and we respected that, said Mokoena.

When Valinhos left, after spending only three weeks at the Free State-based club, he cried interference and claimed that some people within the Ea Lla Koto set-up wanted to force him to accept the role of technical director, while his two-year contract stipulated that he was to be head coach.

He also accused management of having tried to force their favourite players into the starting line-up, adding that his fall-out with the club came as a result of him wanting total control of team selection.

Interference

However, Chidzambwa during the week dismissed reports that he left on the same reasons, even claiming that he enjoyed a good relationship with management, including club owner, Mike Mokoena, who is Rantsis father.

“There was no form of interference and I always enjoyed a good relationship with the club management, said Chidzambwa.

It even took a lot of effort to convince the club owner to release me from my contract but there are pressing personal matters that I have to attend to back home in Zimbabwe. I have left Free State Stars in good faith and am grateful for the chance that the club afforded me to coach in South Africa.

He however, added that should another opportunity to coach in South Africa arise, he would grab it with both hands.

“I like this country. The standard of football is high and the League is very competitive. I would not mind returning back to the country if I get another offer, but that can only happen in December after I have sorted out my personal problems in Zimbabwe.

Jumping ship

But those in the know claim Chidzambwas resignation had more to do with trying to avoid a humiliating dismissal rather than family issues as claimed by the coach.

An official at Stars, who last week spoke to The Zimbabwean on Sunday on condition he was not named, said: The decision to fire Marimo (Chidzambwa) had not been made yet when he resigned, but there was discontent within the club at the way the team was playing under him, despite the fact that he was given the purse to sign players as he wished.

South African football is about entertainment and even if you lose, you must show that you had an intention to win, but that was not the case with Marimos defensive play. Even when management told him to change his style, he continued to play defensively and that was not good for the team.

Stars played to a goalless draw against Santos and Pirates before the 1-1 draw against struggling rookies Vasco Da Gama, which should be the straw that broke the Carmel s back.

With such a statement from management and such results, it is clear that had Mhofu not jumped, he would still have been pushed off the Stars liner.

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