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Mapeza targets surviving relegation with Chippa United

14:25 EAT 11/10/2019
FC Platinum's Norman Mapeza
The Chilli Boys job is the former Galatasaray defensive midfielder’s first coaching role outside Zimbabwe

Chippa United new coach Norman Mapeza says the most realistic target Chippa United can set themselves is avoiding relegation from the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The former Zimbabwe captain took over the reins at winless and bottom-placed Chilli boys in what is his first coaching job outside his native Zimbabwe.

He also joins a club with the grim reputation of frequently changing coaches, as 20 men have been at the helm of the team in the past eight years.

But Mapeza has lowered expectations on his maiden season with Chippa, saying his only concern is ensuring the club maintains their PSL status at the end of this season.

“The club is in a difficult position so the best plan is to make sure we survive relegation. That is the main priority‚” Mapeza told Times Live.

“Look at where the club is positioned. What do you expect from me? If they [Chippa chairman Mpengesi] had told me that they want to win the league at the end of the season I would say‚ ‘Look‚ it can never happen’.”

In 2008 while coaching the now-defunct and former Zimbabwe PSL champions Monomotapa, Mapeza lost the first four league games but went on to win the league title in a sensational turnaround of fortunes.

“I also took over a club back home in Zimbabwe which was at the bottom of the table but we managed to survive relegation. So Chippa offers another a new opportunity in a new environment,” he said.

“You know as coaches and as footballers we will always look to go somewhere. I was a footballer before and my wish was to go and play my football in Europe. If you look at good coaches‚ for you to grow you need opportunities like this.”

Mapeza arrives at Chippa United with a glowing resume, having won back-to-back Zimbabwe PSL titles with FC Platinum in 2017 and 2018 as well as leading the club in the Caf Champions League group stage last season.

A chance to closely assess his Chippa players in a game situation for the first time was presented to him when the Chilli Boys engaged South Africa in a practice match which ended 1-1 on Thursday.

But his real test will come when Chippa resume their league programme with a visit to Highlands Park on August 26.