IT would seem veteran football coach Rahman “Rush” Gumbo was on Wednesday evening downright crushed upon learning that his boss Sunday Chidzambwa had thrown in the towel just days after agreeing a new deal to take charge of the Warriors.
A two-minute telephone conversation with Rush was enough to reveal he was not prepared to lose Chidzambwa.
“Are you calling me from Bulawayo or Harare? I hear your questions but please wait. I’m still talking to umdala (Chidzambwa). Call me after 20 minutes,” said the usually jovial Gumbo with a faint voice on the other side of the phone.
The coach could not even get glued to his mobile phone and he remained tight lipped as the second call from this reporter was answered by someone who claimed Gumbo had gone out.
And we wonder what was going through Gumbo’s mind as he seemingly swallowed a bitter pill after enjoying a good working relationship with Chidzambwa that saw them take the country to its debut Africa Cup of Nations dance in 2004.
The duo also guided the Warriors to their fourth Afcon campaign which, however, was recently punctuated with some nightmarish performances that saw the team crash out of the 2019 Afcon finals, under a cloud of humiliation, after succumbing to their worst defeat (4-0 against DRC) at the June 30 Stadium in Egypt.
Xolisani Gwesela, the Zifa communications manager, said they had not anticipated the move by Chidzambwa who has worked with the team in the last two years, helping them win the Cosafa Cup a record sixth time.
“It is with a deep sense of shock that we have received the untimely resignation of Sunday Marimo Chidzambwa from the position of head coach of the Men A team, the Warriors, at a precarious time, when the nation and team needed his wise counsel. Mr Chidzambwa notified the secretariat of his resignation this afternoon and Zifa has accepted his decision. Zifa is grateful to Mr Chidzambwa for diligently availing his services and wish him well in his upcoming endeavours and trust he remains available whenever we seek his wise counsel,” said Gwesela.
But Zifa decided to make Gumbo comprehensively the number one choice to succeed Chidzambwa and the former, together with Lloyd Mutasa, lead the local band of Warriors to Mauritius for a Chan assignment.
The return leg of the Chan qualifier is set for Barbourfields Stadium, with the winner setting a date with either Lesotho or South Africa for the final round of qualifiers. The finals will be held in Cameroon next year.
The first tournament, held in Cote d’Ivoire, was held in 2009 and won by DR Congo. It was expanded to 16 teams for the second tournament held in Sudan in 2011 and Tunisia were the champions.
South Africa played host to the 2014 event where Zimbabwe emerged fourth behind Nigeria and Ghana, who lost 4-3 on penalties against Libya.
The last Chan tournament was in Morocco and the hosts clinched the title.