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Sport Opinion: Better Than Swaziland, but Then What?

TWO things were clear to me as I watched Zimbabwe slump to a 3-0 defeat to South Africa in an international friendly in Durban on Wednesday night.

Those who read this column may just be aware of my opinion about our national football team, but the team’s shortcomings were terribly exposed again at the Moses Madhiba Stadium midweek.

The first thing is that Sunday Chidzambwa is an outmoded coach we can do without in this ever-changing landscape of football.

That is if as a nation we are really serious about catching up with the rest of the continent which has moved far ahead of us. Chidzambwa’s brief, bargaining-motivated resignation in December should have been in fact gladly accepted by Zifa as good riddance.

What also came to light in this supposed high-profile friendly was, once again, the technical-inadequacy of our players.

This mediocre player resources is not helped at all by a coach who encourages negative football in a friendly match, whose philosophy prompts the use of five defenders and two defensive midfielders, an approach long discarded by most teams on the African continent.

A friendly match is a wonderful and rare opportunity for any progressive coach to go and play football, to try out all his attacking options without worrying about repercussions.

Clearly Zimbabwe didn’t play well. Apart from periodical forays into the Bafana box by young Knowledge Musona, they were content with sitting back to avoid conceding.

That takes away the whole essence of a friendly. Such matches offer teams an opportunity to open up and express themselves, a luxury you don’t get in competitive games. Chidzambwa missed that opportunity on Wednesday.

The saddest thing is that we seem to be all held captive by Chidzambwa. He goes to the press threatening to resign because people constantly criticise his team selection. Who does Chidzambwa think he is that he mustn’t be criticised, even if that criticism was fair and justified? Why should he hold the nation to ransom?

Perhaps Chidzambwa thinks he is untouchable. There I don’t blame him. It is our fault. The man is a creation of a media which measure achievements using wrong benchmarks, giving certain people wrong sense of fulfillment about themselves.

That’s the same mentality that must have cropped into the players after winning the very insignificant Cosafa tournament.

Now against more serious opposition, a side that should be their peers, they crumbled under the slightest of locally-based Bafana pressure. The passing was embarrassingly atrocious, and after looking solid in defence early on, things fell terribly apart when the first goal was conceded. They didn’t know what to do.

From the eyesore that was Wednesday, little wonder South African clubs no longer scramble for local players like they used to.

Apart from those already playing in South Africa, none of the Zimbabwean-based players could have excited any SA premiership scouts.

After Carlos Parreira’s men hammered Swaziland 6-2 at the weekend, they desperately needed some serious competition with the World Cup fast approaching.

Safa must feel cheated and disappointed with the meek resistance from this Zimbabwe team.


Enock Muchinjo

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