THERE was an uproar in our newsroom when the guys trooped in for work on Wednesday morning. The cause for the heated debate – the threat by Warriors coach Sunday Marimo to quit rather than have
a technical advisor appointed to assist him.
My colleagues, who are always eager to contribute their views to this column, were unequivocal in their insistence on the need to “once and for all” tell Marimo to pack and go.
Coupled with the fact that copy had not come from Caps United coach Charles Mhlauri, who I had promised in the previous issue would grace this column this week, the pressure forced me to tell Marimo to “just pack and go”.
My claims that I have sufficiently dealt with the subject in the past were vehemently dismissed and I ended up taking my notebook to record the various views. I remember receiving more than five calls before lunch of that day from soccer lovers also reacting furiously to Marimo’s threat.
“In fact, the guy (Marimo) should have resigned or been dismissed soon after the friendly match against Zambia on Sunday when his team was just an eyesore. It was clear on the day that if we are to stick to this guy and his assistants, our team will not go far,” remarked one staunch Dynamos fan, Patrick Musindo of Harare.
Zifa is making manoeuvres towards appointing a foreign technical advisor. Former South Africa’s successful mentors – Clive Barker and Jomo Sono – lead the race.
In typical fashion that we are now accustomed to, the state-owned media has always been quick to shield Marimo from any criticism over his technical shortcomings.
The defence is premised on the tired notion that Marimo took the Warriors to their maiden African Nations Cup finals in Tunisia and should therefore be untouchable and be insulated from scrutiny and criticism.
Gift Phiri, who recently joined our newsroom from the Tribune, calls this nonsensical and silly propaganda.
“We contemptuously denounce this nonsense, the same way we have denounced attempts to mask the rot in cricket” he said.
Before I clarify this point, may I also describe as balderdash, attempts at giving all the credit for Zimbabwe’s maiden appearance to Marimo alone.
The shortcomings, which had over the years blocked the Warriors from qualifying for the finals ranged from administrative bungling to poor preparations by the team itself. Although not entirely solved, it has to be noted that various efforts by many people with the Warriors at heart played a major role in propelling the team to the finals. The measures included the ouster of former Zifa chairman Leo Mugabe after more than a decade of non-achievement.
Now, Marimo, if the truth be told, had a relatively easy group in the qualifying stage for the Nations Cup. That notwithstanding, the Warriors had to go through the back door. A 1-2 defeat by Seychelles – of all teams – for which the absence of captain Peter Ndlovu was blamed by Marimo, was a shock.
And if people still doubted Marimo’s technical limitations, the last qualifying match against Eritrea told it all. The Warriors, chasing the same qualification slot with Mali needed a 4-0 margin victory. Marimo, facing a weak side without virtually anything to fight for, fielded his usual pro-defencive side at home. The result – a hard fought 2-0 victory and it needed Gabon to help us get through the back door.
Surely we deserve something better!
Any ardent soccer follower will tell you that renowned mentors such as Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson or former Real Madrid gaffer Vicente Del-Bosque adjust playing formations as well as select the team on the basis of the opponent and the nature of the game. It is also common knowledge that a team under pressure to score many goals employs a more offencive formation and throws more strikers than defenders into the fray.
Not with Marimo!
Mhofu has proved his rigidity beyond any doubt.
Before the team kicked the first ball at the finals in Tunisia this year, Marimo stunned most observers by saying he and his lads were going to “learn”. In all fairness, that was betrayal by Marimo. Most people had chosen to bear with Marimo in the hope that he would muster sufficient courage and confidence to take the bull by the horns and stand up to be counted in Tunisia.
If it was Marimo’s intention to learn – what exactly I am not sure – what made us lose out on qualification from Group C that was clearly open to anybody? Can anyone explain to the nation whether Marimo will have the confidence and authority to believe in qualifying for the World Cup? Moreso, go there to face teams such as Germany, Italy and Brazil?
On Sunday he put up his characteristic gloomy stare as the Warriors, after having started well against Zambia, drifted into a real doldrum.
The team gradually lost rhythm and ended up playing the outdated style of pumping the ball into the air. Inevitably, the visitors had to take the game to their opponents. It is such developments during a match that you use to judge a coach’s ability to read the game and provide proper solutions.
Zifa has chosen to respect Marimo and honour him for his contributions by keeping him in the Warriors technical department but at the same time bringing in fresh ideas. But Marimo refuses to “learn” and wants to bully and hold everyone to ransom.
On behalf of soccer loving Zimbabweans who yearn for their team to rise beyond mediocrity, may I once again urge Zifa to tell Marimo that we are grateful for his contribution but we desire to achieve more than mere qualification through the back door and losing in the name of “learning”.
The issue of whether it will be Sono, Barker or even Ferguson to be appointed to advise Marimo is immaterial. What needs to be emphaised is that Zifa should bring in a qualified person, and there are plenty that meet the grade as long as sponsorship to pay them is secured.
If Marimo seriously believes he is indispensable or irreplaceable, may I request him to step aside and see if our national team will cease to exist.
When Barker led Bafana Bafana to their maiden African Nations Cup victory in 1996, he had a pool of technical advisors who included the late Peter Nyama. And we must really be a naive lot to accept Marimo’s bullying tactics and continue having him and Rahman Gumbo as well as Brenna Msiska as our technical department. firstname.lastname@example.org