Black Mambas’ Lesson for Warriors

IF one wanted proof how the Zimbabwe national football team has fallen behind to former contemporaries, the Abuja National Stadium last Sunday was a good enough place to start looking.

Our close neighbours Mozambique (known as the Black Mambas) took on the might of Nigeria at their pomp and emerged with flying colours.

Up until succumbing to a last-gasp Victor Nsofor Obinna goal in the entertaining World Cup qualifier, the Mozambicans did more than enough to win the hearts of many neutrals across the globe.

Mesmerised by the Mozambicans’ doggedness, fighting spirit, technical alertness and athleticism, I tried to watch the game with the eyes of a Mozambican. Lost in that impression, I felt so proud, so good about my imaginary country.

After sharing the spoils with the Nigerians in the home leg, Mozambique went to Abuja and continued to show little respect for the old world order, in fact threatening to run away with the match, a result that would have seen Nigeria crash out of the World Cup qualifiers.

Having imagined how it felt to be a Mozambican soccer fan for the better part of the second half, after 85 minutes of play I took myself out of fantasyland.

I felt sad all of a sudden.

Our national team, the Warriors, cannot match the standards I was seeing from the Black Mambas.

We are incapable of playing a continental powerhouse away from home and hold our own. Too often we crumble under pressure. When exposed to offensive play, our tactics and technique are left in tatters.

In comparison, Mozambique not only absorbed everything thrown at them by the Super Eagles, they gave back as much.

When Mozambique where efficiently stopping all Nigerian movements into their area, our dear Warriors would be like lambs to the slaughter.

Just look at Monomotapa’s performance in the African Champions League this year. Their early home games showing was quite decent, but on the road they always looked like they would concede each time the opposition had the ball. Their coordination and defence were often in disarray; you wondered if they were coached at all.

With this analysis, the question that arises is how do we bring ourselves to the levels of at least former minnows like Mozambique?

There is need for high-performance training in the true sense of the term. Our club system, due to lack of money, is not the ideal platform to produce a top-class national team. To start with, our coaches are not good enough in an era where even African clubs are hiring well-equipped trainers from Europe.

The so-called football academies that have sprawled across the country do not deserve to be known as such.

Perhaps the likes of Mozambique benefit from their special relationship with their former colonial master Portugal.

The strong francophone connection, too, helps most West African countries on the technical aspect of the game.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Zimbabwe where Onismor Bhasera had to launch an appeal after the UK home office initially denied him a work permit to join Portsmouth.

The bilateral ties that Zifa are seeking with European countries could come in handy in addressing our technical flaws if realised above the token level.

enockm@zimind.co.zw

 

Enock Muchinjo

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