Bongani Mafu’s tenure as Orapa United head coach has come to a humiliating end with the tactician expected to be shown the exit door by management owing to lacklustre performance, WeekendSport has established.
The management is of the opinion that the coach’s failure to meet any of his targets last season, with the exception of qualifying for the Champions’ League group stages, has made his continued stay at the club untenable. Mafu was this week allowed to limp-on as United coach, with the club heading towards their painful scenario of him taking charge of the team for the Tuesday evening’s match against struggling Black Forest as a living dead, but indications are now clear that the Zimbabwean coach is side-lined.
Although United’s patience has finally wilted away following a 3-1 away loss to Police XI, the Boteti giants are said to be in premature discussions with former Township Rollers gaffer Nikola Kavazovic regarding a deal to replace Mafu. But Mafu was said to be contemplating taking his job seriously nevertheless, with The Ostriches yet to issue any official statement regarding his pending sacking and a firm interest in Kavazovic.
Before the club's pursuit of Kavazovic emerged, the plan was for the Zimbabwean to end the season and then have a review at United- just as it was the case with former coach Madinda Ndlovu. This campaign is said to be led by club chairperson and some influential members of the committee. The committee is said to be intent that if it decides at this point to let Mafu go, there should be a candidate in place who has agreed terms and would be ready to take over immediately to prepare and propel United back to challenging top honours.
This is the strategy under which Kavazovic is approached, and although by going to print, the team denied they had reached an agreement with him. However, it is said discussions between Mafu and Orapa United regarding financial terms and contractual clauses are said to be at the stage where a contract is ready to be terminated. And some sources say club’s assistant coach Mogomotsi Mpote will lead the team on interim basis.
Mafu’s position grew more precarious when the team started recording poor results even in their back yard. The management reportedly felt the Zimbabwean was destroying their style of play hence players failing to cope. After failing to stage convincing comebacks against fiercest rivals Township Rollers in the pre- season BTC Charity cup, coupled with the failure to win the Mascom Top 8 and now seemingly falling off in the title challenge, this season's dismal campaign, although early, has convinced the management he is no longer the man fit to lead the club.
Orapa United is now attracted to the Serbian because of his impressive stewarding of Township Rollers, where he won every cup on offer of domestic football. Orapa United’s media liaison denied information about Mafu’s sacking. He said the team has rather engaged the coach about his performance and nothing else. “We are in meeting with the coach, news that we have fired him are not true, we have to evaluate him first and negotiate a way forward,” he said.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.