ZIFA have asked their technical director, Nelson Matongorere, to explain his controversial decision to sit on the Warriors bench and the mysterious role he played during the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Egypt at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The national association have also ordered Matongorere not to sit on the Warriors bench in future assignments because the veteran coach has never been tasked with being part of German mentor Klaus Dieter Pagels’ official backroom staff.
Zifa technical director Nelson Matongorere (left) joins substitutes and the Warriors’ technical staff as they clap hands at the end of the national anthem, before the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Egypt on Sunday.
Matongorere courted controversy on Sunday when he made a surprise appearance on the Warriors technical bench where he sat together with Pagels’ support staff which included assistant coaches Lloyd Mutasa, Nkululeko Dhlamini and Peter Ndlovu, team manager Sharif Mussa and the medical crew of team doctor Nicholas Munyonga and physiotherapist Farai Muguwe.
Matongorere even wore the official shirt and trousers worn by every member of the technical staff.
The Warriors were at the National Sports Stadium for a World Cup African Zone Group qualifier against Egypt in which Pagels’ men slumped to a huge 4-2 defeat, the worst by the national team on home soil in any competition since Independence in 1980.
Seasoned Egyptian midfielder Mohammed Aboutrika scored the opener after just five minutes before lively FC Basel forward Mohammed Salah struck a hat-trick to condemn the Warriors to a defeat that saw them writing a new record for the wrong reasons.
Not even goals by talismanic forward Knowledge Musona and Kaizer chiefs centreback Lincoln Zvasiya, either side of the break, could save the Warriors from succumbing to their second home defeat in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. The Warriors had last year also lost 1-0 at home to Guinea at the same venue in their opening Group G assignment.
But as the Warriors trooped out of the National Sports Stadium with their heads low, one of the major talking points was the mysterious role of the Zifa technical director on the senior team’s bench.
It was also the first time, since his appointment as technical director, that Matongorere had sat on the Warriors bench.
But his superiors at Zifa seemed taken aback by the former national Under-20 and Under-23 coach’s presence on the Warriors bench.
Although Matongorere enjoys cordial relations with Pagels, whose prime mission to the country was to be the Zifa technical adviser, the association’s board yesterday took exception to his presence on the senior national team’s bench arguing that he had strayed from his mandate as the association’s technical director.
Both Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede and the association’s chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, confirmed having raised concern over Matongorere’s presence on the Warriors bench in Sunday’s match against the Pharaohs.
Gumede said they had also earlier warned that Matongorere “has of late been spending more time focusing on the Warriors than his other broader national duties’’.
It emerged that Mashingaidze yesterday wrote to Matongorere asking him to explain his role on the Warriors bench and also ordering him not to sit on any of the national teams’ benches as this was not in line with his mandate at the association.
As Mashingaidze wrote to Matongorere, the Warriors technical department was last night meeting to
decide on whether to make any additions or drop any players to their squad ahead of their next
World Cup qualifying assignment away to Guinea in Conakry.
After the huge defeat to Egypt the Warriors must pick themselves up and face a Guinea outfit that was rampant at home on Sunday night and thumped Mozambique 6-1.
Although he had seemed to have eased into the Warriors technical set-up Matongorere, who travelled with the senior team to Zambia and Malawi for international friendlies, is now highly unlikely to be part of the delegation that will fly out to Conakry on Thursday following the order from Mashingaidze.
“Yes it is true that I wrote to him (Matongorere) telling him that we are concerned with his presence on the Warriors bench when he is a technical director of the association who should be directing the technical portfolio of the association on a national scale,” said Mashingaidze.
“When the Warriors’ technical team appointments were made by the Zifa board he was not incorporated, so we have directed him to concentrate on his portfolio and not to sit on any bench for any national teams because his should be a supportive role from an administrative point of view that comes in where and when the need arises.
“We find it clumsy that we have an arrangement, even at training, where he attends all sessions and seems to interfere with the work of those appointed by the board and we have also advised Klaus Dieter Pagels about the association’s position on that matter.
“We strongly believe that the technical director must and should concentrate on his purview and if need be work with the high-performance committee whose members do not sit on the national team’s bench either.”
The national team’s high performance committee is headed by Zifa board member competitions Benedict “Grinder’’ Moyo and includes such veteran coaches like Gibson Homela, Misheck Chidzambwa and Cosmas Zulu.
While Zifa were barring Matongorere from sitting on the Warriors bench, questions also continued to be asked on the composition of Pagels’ squad with pressure mounting on the German gaffer to consider more experienced players in his side.
The Warriors might be on a revolution to try and play a passing game according to Pagels’ gospel but since beating Botswana in an international friendly at Rufaro in February, they have always appeared lightweight.
In fact, calls on Pagels to balance his youthful team with some seasoned players were raised soon after the coach’s first assignment here and the chorus that has been ringing all along grew even louder after the crashing defeat to Egypt in Sunday’s match.
Although the coach had seemed to heed the calls for experience by finally including Cuthbert Malajila in his attack, the majority of the fans in the country believe Pagels needs to do more by bringing in seasoned defenders and stablise a defence that has leaked in six goals in back to back matches against Egypt.
There have also been calls on the coach to also add more grit and experience to his midfield with Kaizer Chiefs’ Willard Katsande’s name featuring prominently in the debate as has been that of AmaZulu centre back Carlington Nyadombo and Mamelodi Sundowns’ Nyasha Mushekwi.
Criticism on Pagels has also centred on his decision to tinker with his team and trying players in different roles from the ones they play at their respective clubs - Herald Sports.