Tunisia disaster a timely learning curve for Zim

Itai Dzamara

THE fact that the national soccer team will start the World Cup Qualifying campaign in April compels the nation to immediately make decisions and changes based on the experience in Tunisia.
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It would be folly, as some observers are suggesting, to merely see off the Warriors’ adventure in Tunisia and continue to hide behind the so-called “group of death” issue. Or join coach Sunday Marimo in his latest revelation that “we are not serious as a nation” and couldn’t have done anything with the preparations the team put up.


With the benefit of hindsight, one recalls that this nation has always resorted to such excuses which have spurred endless and unresolved debates in the sports arena.


Contrary to Marimo’s assertion even before departing for Tunisia that the team was going to “learn”, it must be stated that an opportunity was available for the team to hold its own against the best of continental soccer. If anything, the results and final log standings prove that any team in Group C including Zimbabwe had a chance to advance to the quarter-finals.


But for the Warriors, three major shortcomings caused their early exit. In addition to the widely-acknowledged poor preparations which observers had consistently criticised but with efforts put to waste – the selection done by Marimo and his colleagues in the technical department was another cause for concern.


The surprise inclusion of spent forces such as Wilfred Mugeyi and the out-of-sorts Lazarus Muhoni at the expense of seasoned campaigners currently at the peak of their careers such as Richard Choruma, Francis Chandida and Lloyd Chitembwe raised eyebrows.


The effects of ineptitude as a result of the loopholes in the squad were there for all to see. For example, the problematic midfield department, from which playmaker Ronald Si-banda was also left in the first two matches, was the Warriors’ major undoing.


And then obviously questions would always be asked as to Marimo and his assistant coaches’ technical expertise. The trio seemed clueless at various stages of the match.


The Warriors scored first in both matches against Egypt and Cameroon but instead of capitalising on the advantage and piling even more pressure, the team seemed to willingly surrender. The opponents would easily equalise and take the lead. It would be inevitable against a Warriors’ team continuously playing a defensive strategy and failing to garner composure.


Even tactical changes proved to be too huge a task for the technical team. It is pertinent to recall during the Cameroon match how a positive focused technical department should have sprung to its feet to spur the team on after scoring the second goal. Having narrowed the deficit to 3-2, the Warriors could have taken the game to their opponents who had been clearly unsettled. A fresh pair of legs for the midfield could have added the impetus.

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