Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
NORMAN MAPEZA might have left Chippa United three weeks ago but his impact continues to be felt, and celebrated, with AFCON Cup winner, Mark Williams, the latest influential figure in South African football to salute the Zimbabwean coach.
Mapeza quit the Chilli Boys at the beginning of this month, after feeling his work was being undermined by some powerful forces, in the background, at one of the world’s most chaotic football clubs.
There were also reports the Zimbabwean gaffer was unhappy with the attitude of some of the players, who would prefer to go on drinking binges, rather than train to prepare for their assignments, without being punished by the club’s leadership.
Those reports appeared to be confirmed yesterday when club owner, Siviwe ‘‘Chippa’’ Mpengezi, went public to caution one of the team’s leading players, Andile Mbeyane, for arriving at training while under the influence of alcohol.
Mbeyane, who has been at Chippa for 11 years, has already clashed with caretaker coach, Rulani Mokwena, who replaced Mapeza on a short-term basis.
“If he doesn’t improve on his issues of not coming to training, or coming to training drunk‚ there is nothing much the club will do for him‚” Mpengesi told Times Live.
“He has abused the fact that he has been with us for many years‚ but I am sure that he and the coach will sit down and find each other to solve the problems.
“He has been with us for about 10 years but he has not even reached 130 games — he is supposed to have played at least 300 games.
‘‘This shows that he hasn’t done enough for the club. In fact, we have done a lot for him.
“We wish to see him retiring here at the club but if his behaviour doesn’t change then there is little that we can do.
‘‘We want to him be like the Hlompho Kekanas of this world and finish his career with us.
“We are sick and tired of people blaming us or us having to fire coaches while certain players are sitting there and just enjoying themselves.”
Mapeza has since returned home but he made such a profound impact, during his five-month stay at Chippa United, a number of foreign clubs across the continent have shown interest in his services.
It’s very likely Mapeza would have signed a pre-contract deal with a foreign club, by now, had football not been brought to a halt in many parts of Africa as authorities battle to control the spread of coronavirus.
The South African Premiership has also been forced to take a break, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in that country continue to rise.
However, there appears to be a cold war between the Super Diski leaders, who want their programme completed, and the SAFA bosses, who want everything brought to a standstill until the health crisis shows signs of taking a turn for the better.
The absence of live football, in particular, and sport, in general, around the world, has also been felt by SuperSport who have found themselves with very little new content, in terms of live sporting events, to broadcast on their channels.
The SuperSport bosses have come up with initiatives to try and bridge that gap and, on Wednesday, introduced a four-hour live studio sports programme, Grandstand, to discuss events which have happened in sport in recent months.
The show has been fashioned along the lines of a programme, with a similar name, which used to air on the BBC between 1958 and 2007.
The final Saturday edition of Grandstand on BBC was broadcast on January 27, 2007, with the last show coming the following day after 48 years of airing.
SuperSport have come with their own Grandstand and yesterday’s show was anchored by Neil Andrews.
Mpumelelo Mbangwa, the former Zimbabwe international cricketer, Thato Moeng and Williams were the pundits on the show which discussed football, with most of the initial focus being on the Soweto Derby battles, between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs this season.
And, when the show drifted to a discussion about how Chippa United had ended up getting coach, Rulani Mokwena, on loan from Pirates, to replace Mapeza, Williams weighed in with his thoughts about how the Zimbabwean coach had fared n his first dance as a gaffer in Super Diski.
‘‘My point is that the coach that was at Chippa (Mapeza) was doing well,’’ said Williams, who rose to fame on the continent after scoring twice, in the 1996 AFCON final, to guide South Africa to a 2-0 win over Tunisia.
‘‘I can’t understand, he was doing well, when he came there, he changed the whole thing. I think the problem at Chippa, and this is my understanding, as soon as a coach does well there (at Chippa), they just get rid of him.’’
Williams was joint top goal-scorer during the 1996 AFCON finals, with four goals for Bafana Bafana, but his profile really rocketed around the continent when his two goals in the final against the Carthage Eagles, powered South Africa to their only success story in this tournament.
His career took him to Brazil, where he played for Corinthians, English side Wolverhampton Wanderers, and also in China and Belgium.
He has now become a SuperSport football pundit.
Show anchor, Andrews, reminded viewers yesterday that Chippa United were now just one coaching change away from breaking the Guinness Book of Records, in terms of chopping and changing of coaches by a professional football club.
‘‘The problem with Chippa is that they are one coach short of breaking the all-time Guinness Book of Records of going through coaches,’’ Andrews said.
Mapeza was the 20th coach to take charge of Chippa United, since the club broke into the South African top-flight league, but — despite the huge turnover of coaches — the man who replaced the Zimbabwean believes it’s the right club for gaffers to thrive.