THE Warriors’ extremely disappointing 2-all home draw and subsequent exit from the Afcon competition came as a shock to many, but if the truth be told, it really shouldn’t have.
Candid Comment with Kevin Mapasure
Almost 60 000 ardent fans packed the National Sports Stadium hoping to witness the most loved sports team in the land dispatch Tanzania and book what should have been a routine place in the next round.
Yet the Warriors, even by their poor standards in recent years, contrived to disappoint the multitudes by falling before the proper qualification stages had commenced.
An inquest has since been launched with fingers pointing at the usual suspects in coaches led by Ian Gorowa, the administrators and players.
Yet the problems afflicting the “beautiful game” in Zimbabwe are also evident in rugby, cricket and, in fact, just about every other sport.
The major obstacle to our progress in sport is the abject lack of seriousness and preparation. While everyone else was busy preparing for the second legs by engaging top opposition in friendly matches, Zimbabwe opted to continue with the domestic league programme.
And last Sunday, Tanzania, who did not break camp after the first leg which they won 1-0, played Malawi in a friendly and reaped the rewards of hard work, focus and seriousness.
Zimbabweans are of the mistaken belief that the country is a football giant and the Warriors simply need to turn up for a preliminary round match and march on to the next stage. Yet the painful reality is that Zimbabwe have only qualified twice for Afcon finals, and there will be no meaningful international football for the Warriors until 2016.
What performances or results can be expected from a nation that appoints a part- time coach who resides in South Africa and only comes in as and when a match is imminent?
Is that not the reason Gorowa invested faith in a mostly locally-based squad that did duty at Chan, yet most of the players have struggled for form since the start of the new season?
Zimbabwe suspiciously chooses to ignore its European-based players in favour of locally-based ones in a order to sell them to the poor quality, but cash-rich South African league where their talents, unfortunately, waste away.
If the Zimbabwe Rugby Union does not draw lessons from the Warriors’ failures, the Sables World Cup dream could go up in smoke after their first game of the qualifiers against Madagascar next month.
Rivals Kenya have been thorough in their preparations, investing close to US$1 million playing in the Vodacom Cup.
But for the Sables, only a handful of players have showed up for training so far.
There is a golden chance for the Sables to qualify for the World Cup in England next year, yet government has had no role in such an important undertaking.
As long as government continues to take sport as a pastime, Zimbabwe’s sports fans will continue to sing the blues. Appointing a sports minister alone is not enough; there must also be adequate funding.