Chairman Chippa Mpengesi introduces and welcomes Head Coach Norman Mapeza, saying "We wish Coach all of the best, with the support of the office, the technical team and players." Photo: @ChippaUnitedFC on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – There were more messages of condolences than congratulatory ones directed at Norman Mapeza when it was announced that he had signed a three-year contract with Chippa United.

That’s because coaching the club is career suicide. 

Many men have done it and no-one lasts due to the trigger-happy tendencies of club chairman Chippa Mpengesi. The three-year contract Mapeza signed is not worth the paper it’s printed on. No coach has ever finished their contract at the club since it started in professional football.

It will take something special for Mapeza to be the first coach to do so even though he comes with an impressive CV. He has won two league titles in Zimbabwe with FC Platinum. He also took the club to the group stage of the CAF Champions League for the first time, finishing at the bottom of a group that had Esperance of Tunisia, Guinea’s Horoya and Orlando Pirates. 

Mapeza is no slouch, and he will bring value to the Premier Soccer League. But there is a feeling that even though he is the right coach - a competent and qualified one - he chose the wrong club to start his career in South Africa.

Mapeza will manage the Chilli Boys for the first time tonight when the club hosts Bloemfontein Celtic at Sisa Dukashe Stadium in the last match of the Telkom Knockout’s first round. The winner will join Maritzburg United, Golden Arrows, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United, Highlands Park and Mamelodi Sundowns who have all booked their places in the quarter-finals. The draw will be conducted immediately after Chippa’s clash with Phunya Sele Sele.

Progress to the next round would be a good way to start for Mapeza, but his primary focus should be on helping Chippa survive relegation. The instability that Mpengesi causes due to his trigger-happy tendencies plays a role in the club’s instability.

Chippa, because of Mpengesi, constantly flirt with relegation with the owner creating problems rather than solving them with his impatience. The fact that they have survived this long in the Premier Division makes him believe that his ways are working, but instead they have created a toxic environment where the Chippa job is only taken by those desperate for a paycheque or exposure not because they have bought into a vision of giving Eastern Cape a powerful side.

The irony is that Celtic, who were on the verge of a collapse last season, come into this match as a model of calm compared to their opponents. Celtic have got past their troubles that saw the club being put up for sale and fans rioting in a bid to stop the purchase which would have seen the City of Roses lose their clubs and after Free State Stars’ relegation, it would have meant that the province would be starved of Premier Division football this season.

Eastern Cape will be a footballing orphan once again if Mapeza doesn’t work his magic to save Chippa who occupy bottom spot in the Absa Premiership standings. The Zimbabwean’s future depends on it, and even if he does deliver this season it doesn’t guarantee a long-stay.

Football Reporter