Independentview: Zifa must put its house in order

CUTHBERT Dube led his 13-member grouping into the Zifa office in March  last year, smelling sweet of roses and promising milk and honey to anybody who cared to listen to what he had to say, as he took over the reins at the country’s supreme football body.

But 10 months on, the sweet scent  is vanishing at an alarming pace.
We have seen neither the milk nor the honey yet, but have so far been served  of something as bitter as a concoction of lemon and vinegar sprinkled with  salt.
Some in the football circles refused to be fooled by Dube and crew’s swaggering entry into office; they smelled the stench right from the start, and they have left some  of us hugely embarrassed for being  hoodwinked.
Zifa will always be judged by the performance of the senior national team and   the failure of the Warriors in turn signals  the failure of Zifa.
The association has already shown enough signs of incompetence regarding their handling of the Warriors affairs and we hope their reign will not end as another unmitigated disaster.
The Zimbabwe senior national soccer team is faced with quite a tricky fixture when they clash with Mali in an African Cup of Nations qualifier away from home on March 25.
It may turn out to be the most crucial of games if the Warriors are to flirt again with the continent’s best at the finals  next year, and the years  beyond.
While other nations are preparing for the next round of qualifiers, Zimbabwe has busied itself preparing for the less glamorous Chan tournament, choosing to ignore polishing up for the big match.
Not disregarding the importance of the Chan tournament, ultimately Zifa will be judged by the Warriors qualification and performance at Afcon and not the former.
If the administrators believe that tournaments like Chan will mitigate their failure  in the end, then it’s a dream they should wake up from real quick.
The Chan tournament is a developmental showcase for locally based players and it is an important tournament in its own right, but does  not outweigh qualification and participation at Afcon.
February 9 is a Fifa set date for international friendlies and Mali will be playing Ivory Coast in preparation for the Zimbabwe game. Mind you, Mali has also qualified and will  be participating at Chan.
Zimbabwe has not organised any match on that date instead the coaches will be at the Chan tournament watching the local pool of players.
But how many of those players will figure in the Warriors set up when they play against Mali? I doubt even  five will make it.
The problem is Zifa has chosen to invest all its energies into Chan while forgeting  about the important Mali match: There is just no movement, nobody is running around, nobody is even talking about this crucial tie.
Couldn’t they have gathered at least the South African contingent and played  a friendly match so that the expected new coach, Charles Mhlauri, takes a look at the players he would use for the Mali game?
Mhlauri is not a god; he will not come here and wand some magic to make the Warriors win.
He is a good coach, a good man and a meticulous planner yes, but important ingredients are lacking in our preparations.
He will have to work his socks off if the team is to pull off anything and if the environment he work in is  reeking as of late, then he too will come out a skunk and he will rue the day he gathered his movables and valuables to check in for a flight home from America to coach the Warriors.
Dube promised the nation that in his reign the Warriors would utilise the Fifa friendlies calendar to play meaningful sparring matches, and so he did when the Warriors played Mozambique in November last year.
But that’s fulfilling less than half the promise when the team gets those friendlies sparingly.
Zifa  went to town about a  plan for the Warriors to play an international friendly against strong opposition in Europe on February 9, but  now there is a deafening silence about the plan and our boys will have to stay at their bases while more serious nations will be replenishing and recalibrating for the important qualifiers next month.
Of course, Zifa will seek vindication from the fact that they inherited a broke association, thus they are not yet well funded or are ill-equipped to finance such projects.
But they knew very well what they were getting themselves into and we all thought they had the road-map to revival;  in fact they told us they did.
Who would want to put their money into any organisation that takes as long as 10 months bickering over the appointment of a national team coach?
Out of an array of available coaches both locally and internationally they couldn’t agree on one competent practitioner to preside over the Warriors.
Nobody wants to be associated with chaos and the way the appointment of national teams’ coaches was handled was far from encouraging.
Norman Mapeza, a coach of good command and standing was left a battered man after a faction  at Zifa hatched a plan to make sure he was  sidelined.
Belgian Tom Saintfiet, up to now, doesn’t know what hit him.
We are  aware that Dube wants the team to qualify but his grandiose plan took a heavy knock at a crucial time when he failed to stamp his authority.
Dube should  have appointed a national team coach  a  long time ago  so that the team was  better prepared for the impending qualifiers.
But when he gave a bit of power to Benedict Moyo, the plot was lost and now they are reaping the rewards.
We all pray the Warriors get a favourable result in Mali because if they don’t the fans will be unforgiving and on whose door they will lay the blame, there’s no need to guess.
The Warriors need to rediscover their strut after an inept, tepid and poor performance against Cape Verde at home last October, and if they don’t a storm will soon be blowing into  Dube’s face.
Dube and crew need to be reminded that they will live and die by the Warriors’ results, so they are  advised to prepare the team sufficiently otherwise they will soon be fighting ferocious fires.

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