THE race for the Warriors coaching job could now turn out to be a battle of Dutch mentors after former Highlanders gaffer Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh reportedly threw in his name in the hat just before the New Year.
His countryman and also n ex-Bosso employee, Erol Akbay, is amongst those that are eyeing the Warriors hot seat which has attracted interest from a number of European coaches.
Spanish coach Manuel “Manolo” Marquez Roca, Hans Michael Weiss of Germany, Kosta Papic of Serbia and Zdravko Logarusic of Croatia are the other European coaches vying for the Warriors post.
Former national team coach Joey “Mafero” Antipas is also in the race.
Former Orlando Pirates, Rwanda and Uganda national teams coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic has also been linked with the Warriors post, although a source said the gaffer never applied for the job.
The Zimbabwe Football Association’s technical team, headed by board member Brighton Malandule, has already begun vetting the CVs and the announcement of the new Warriors coach is expected before the end of January.
“It’s work in progress, Malandule and team are in charge at this stage,” ZIFA acting vice president Philemon Machana told The Sunday Mail Sport yesterday.
ZIFA have to act fast, though, as the national team has the 2022 World Cup qualifiers coming up in March and the African Nations Championships (CHAN) kicking off in April.
The World Cup group stage draw for African national teams will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on January 21.
Zimbabwe are in Pot 3 and will be drawn against any of Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali, and DR Congo, who are the seeded teams.
However, aspiring Warriors coach Akbay feels Zimbabwe is now ripe for the World Cup and believes he is the right man to take the country to the finals in Qatar.
“Zimbabwe has good players playing in Africa and Europe. That’s why I think the country is now ripe to qualify for the World Cup,” Akbay told The Sunday Mail Sport from his base in Netherlands last week.
“I think I am the right man for the job right now because I know Zimbabwean players and I know what Zimbabwean people want.
“My job is just to come up with a good team that plays good football and scores many goals. We also have to do better at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
“What I want is for people to come to the stadium in numbers. Honestly, I have no idea what chance I have of landing this job but I hope ZIFA will give me the chance so that I can give the people what they want.
“I am ready for it,” declared Akbay, a former Ngezi Platinum Stars coach, who was sacked by the Mhondoro side on September 17, 2019, after registering eight wins, eight draws and seven losses.
Akbay’s counterpart, De Jongh, who has also been linked with the FC Platinum job, might also sway ZIFA’s mind, following a highly successful short stint with Highlanders.
The nomadic De Jongh, who has coached in the Netherlands, Moldova, Hungary, Kenya and South Africa amongst other nations, transformed an ailing Highlanders into a formidable force after he was appointed in September 2019.
De Jongh lost once in 11 games and won the Chibuku Super Cup.
The Dutch mentor is on holiday in his native country and was coy about the Warriors job when contacted yesterday.
“I am on holiday now and when I am done I will be focusing on new challenges. I will have news about my new challenges in a very short period of time,” De Jongh said.
“There was a suggestion, though, that it would be possible for me to do both Highlanders and national team but as you know I did not extend my contract with Highlanders.”
The Sunday Mail Sport also understands that a Serbian coach, Papic, who was sacked from his post as Eswatini national team coach last December and has managed clubs in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania, is also interested in the Warriors job.
The 59-year-old has also coached Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
He also had a stints at Nigerian giants Enyimba, Young Africans of Tanzania and Hearts of Oak in Ghana.
The Serbian, who spent more than a decade working in South Africa, was relieved of his duties by Eswatini after they lost 0-3 in Guinea Bissau and 1-4 at home to Senegal in their opening two Africa Nations Cup qualifiers in November last year.
Former Sudan national team coach Logarusic (54) is also being considered by the Zimbabwe football mother body.
Logarusic was in charge of Sudan in the last two years and presided over the country’s opening AFCON qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe and South Africa.
Sudan got off to a flying start, thumping Sao Tome 4-0 but faltered in South Africa three days later.
The 54-year-old Croatian guided Sudan to third place at the 2018 CHAN in Morocco and to a spot in the group phase of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Then, there is also Michael Weiss, the German coach who was in charge of the Philippines national team last year.
The 54-year-old former goalkeeper also managed in Mongolia, Rwanda and had internship stints at Real Madrid and Arsenal.
Marquez Roca is a retired Spanish defender who is a former Las Palmas coach.
The 51-year-old coached a Thailand club in 2019 and before that, he was in charge of Croatian First Division side Istra 1961.