Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau
THE rumour mill was in overdrive again yesterday linking Callisto Pasuwa to the Ngezi Platinum job after the Mhondoro miners brewed a shocker and fired their coach Tonderai Ndiraya with just five Premiership games to go.
Marathon meetings in Ngezi on Tuesday which came in the aftermath of their 1-0 loss to lowly Bulawayo City at Barbourfields virtually sealed Ndiraya’s two and half year romance with the ambitious club.
As news spread that Ndiraya and Ngezi had parted ways, former Warriors coach Pasuwa’s name was also being linked with a move to the miners as a replacement ahead of the 2019 season.
Ngezi who had set themselves the target of winning the championship appear to have blamed Ndiraya for their current second place and five points deficit to leaders FC Platinum.
But there is no doubting that the timing of the coach’s departure with just 15 points to play for has sparked a lot of debate in the Premiership.
The club confirmed Ndiraya’s departure in a statement yesterday.
Ngezi had demanded the title from Ndiraya at the beginning of the campaign and after a dream start to the season in which the club went for 13 games without tasting defeat, the Mhondoro outfit have blown hot and cold in the second half of the marathon and lost ground to leaders FC Platinum.
The title race, however remains a two-horse race between the two platinum mining clubs.
Ndiraya had never surrendered the fight and has always been optimistic his club would win the championship.
But, a shock 0-1 defeat to relegation-bound Bulawayo City over the weekend which allowed FC Platinum to restore their five-point advantage at the top, which ironically had been reduced to two just three days earlier, seems to have riled Ngezi Platinum Stars management and yesterday they decided to part ways with the former Dynamos coach.
Club secretary-general, Cloete Munjoma, issued the statement that also announced that assistant coach Clifton “Somalia’’ Kadurira and goalkeepers’ trainer Gift Muzadzi had been mandated to oversee the remainder of the season.
“Ngezi Platinum Stars FC wishes to announce the departure of coach Tonderai Ndiraya from the team through a mutual separation agreement.
“Tonderai (Ndiraya) joined Ngezi Platinum when the team was promoted to the Premier Soccer League.
“The Board and Management of Ngezi Platinum Stars would like to thank (Tonderai) Ndiraya for his commitment to the team for the past two-and-a-half years.
“We have no doubt that he will continue to succeed as a young coach and wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” Munjoma said.
That statement also triggered the rumour linking clubless Pasuwa with a move to Mhondoro.
Pasuwa’s shadow had also been looming large at Dynamos in the run up to Lloyd Mutasa’s sacking but his manager Gibson Mahachi dismissed speculation of his client moving to either side.
Pasuwa, who won four consecutive league titles with Dynamos between 2011 and 2014 recently turned down an offer to coach the Swaziland national team.
And his name has always been thrown into the hat to take over at the ambitious side.
Mahachi yesterday professed ignorance and said he was yet to be approached by Ngezi Platinum.
“We recently turned down an offer from the Swaziland national team and they are the last people to approach us pertaining to Pasuwa. Ngezi Platinum Stars have not yet made any formal request.
“I am not aware of any interests in my client at the moment. Maybe they will come but at the moment, I can confirm that there has never been any contact,” Mahachi said.
Ngezi Platinum Stars chairman Jeremiah Gasitene also refuted talk of hiring Pasuwa and said the miners were not interested in taking any coach at this point.
“We are only left with five games before the season ends. Clifton Kadurira will see off the remainder of the marathon, we are not taking anyone else,” said Gasitene.
Ndiraya spent over two years at the Mhondoro miners having joined them upon their promotion into the top-flight in 2016.
In addition to guiding the team to a top-eight finish in their maiden season, Ndiraya also led the club to the Chibuku Super Cup glory that same year and a ticket to play in the Caf Confederation Cup, where Ngezi Platinum crashed out in the second round.
Last year Ndiraya was in the title mix only to lose the plot in the final stretch but still managed to gatecrash into the top-four.