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WARRIORS’ interim coach Norman Mapeza says he didn’t have a fallout with Walter Magaya on Sunday night and is deeply hurt that his team’s flying start to their 2019 AFCON campaign has been relegated by the negativity of a rift between him and the football-mad prophet.

Social media has been buzzing that Mapeza and Magaya fell out, in spectacular fashion, on Sunday night. But the coach, who had a lengthy chat with the prophet yesterday, said he was deeply troubled by suggestions of a major rift between the two. Mapeza’s statement came on the eve of an announcement by ZIFA of the identity of the two other caretaker coaches, today, who will take charge of the Warriors’ 2017 CHAN assignments and the 2017 COSAFA qualifiers. ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa said the Warriors will be led by different coaches in the CHAN and COSAFA battles.

There has been pressure on Mapeza by his employers, FC Platinum, to concentrate on the Zvishavane miners as they attempt to win the league championship for the first time in their history and ZIFA felt loading him with CHAN and COSAFA assignments would be too much for him.

Magaya converted part of his new plush hotel complex in Harare’s Waterfalls area, the exclusive VVIP wing, into a camping site for the Warriors, who stayed there for two weeks preparing for their battle against the Lone Star, provided his Yadah Stadium for the team’s training sessions and also provided the food consumed during that camp while also taking care of all the team’s laundry requirements.

But no sooner had the Warriors completed a 3-0 victory over the West Africans, in a game which new skipper Knowledge Musona scored a hat-trick, did reports emerge that there had been a spectacular fallout between Mapeza and Magaya and this had filtered into the Warriors’ squad, not only dampening the celebrations among the players, but also dividing their triumphant camp.

Mapeza is reported to have stormed out of the Warriors’ team bus, in protest over the move by his players, technical staff and some ZIFA leaders to travel to a Sunday evening church service that was being conducted by Magaya, at his Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries church in Harare, to thank the prophet for the part he played in the victory over Liberia.

Chiyangwa led the Warriors’ delegation to that church service where he thanked Magaya and the PHD partners for coming to their aid by providing the team with a conducive camping site, and training ground, ahead of the battle against Liberia.

Mapeza, speaking from his base in Zvishavane, claimed there was a deliberate mission by "those who probably didn’t want us to win the game against Liberia to divert the attention of the nation from the positive result we posted, in a pressure game, to negative issues that did not have a basis," as part of a wider conspiracy against his team.

"I can tell you that I am very disturbed by all these things that I have been hearing that I had a fallout with Prophet Magaya on Sunday because nothing can be further from the truth. I called the team manager (Wellington Mpandare) earlier today (yesterday) and, on his phone, I managed to talk to the prophet to tell him that it was wrong for people to try and divide us for their selfish reasons when we had built, in the past two weeks, a very strong relationship. I told him that during our time in camp I really bonded with him very well and that is why I accepted that he should even come to our training sessions and I could discuss with him issues relating to our preparations," said Mapeza.

"I told him that we owe him a lot for all that he did in giving us a good camping base where we were able to prepare for the game against Liberia without any distractions. When we won that game, it appears, some people who didn’t want us to win then found something very negative because they didn’t want the positive story. You can tell from all the emotions that I showed on Sunday that I was someone who was under a lot of pressure because I knew that this was a very important game and I also told the prophet that, by giving us a base to camp, he became part of us and if we hadn’t won the criticism would not spare him. I don’t even have my voice right now, because of all the screaming I did in that game just to ensure the boys win the game so that we could take away all that pressure and also prove wrong those who didn’t want us to win and I am glad the team won but I am also disappointed that their victory is now being overshadowed by all this negative talk."

Mapeza, who was set to reunite with his FC Platinum players yesterday for a training session ahead of a league match tomorrow, said he couldn’t understand how he would agree to spend two weeks at Magaya’s complex and, after winning the game against Liberia, suddenly turn against the prophet. It also has to be made clear that no one in camp was forced to attend church, not me and not my players, because we all come from different religious backgrounds and, by the way, Qadr Amini is a Moslem and everyone respects that and those who went to church chose to do that, said Mapeza.

"After our game I had my programme because, people tend to forget, I am employed by FC Platinum and I had to make the arrangements to come here as quickly as possible. It’s sad that we are discussing all these negative things right now, which have no basis, when we should be talking about all the positive things that happened on Sunday and celebrate such a big victory."

Magaya confirmed speaking to Mapeza yesterday and said his decision to give the Warriors $1 000 each as winning bonuses would stand and he has never forced anyone to come to his church. "It’s a choice for someone to be part of us at the church and, as I said, my aim is not to cause any havoc but to help my country, nothing more and nothing less, and I just do all this for my nation because I am passionate about seeing us doing well in various sectors, including football," he said.

"I was humbled by the people, including the ZIFA president, who came to thank us for helping the team and I also salute the coach for the win, he has done well and we are all one family as Zimbabweans, which is what matters to me."

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