THERE were more pleasing factors from Zimbabwe’s 3-0 win over Liberia on top of the result and performance.
Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo
Selection was one of them.
By design or default, the Warriors have shown a refreshing sense of direction in this aspect in recent times.
Team chemistry, a characteristic of all successful sports teams in the world, is achieved through consistency in selection.
Almost half the team in our starting line-up against Liberia on Sunday, five to be precise, were stars of Zimbabwe’s outstanding 2014 Chan tournament where a gifted group of locally-based Warriors was very unlucky not to reach the final after losing to Libya on penalties at the semi-final stage.
Three years have quickly elapsed since that tournament in South Africa.
Watching the five players display performances of maturity and quality in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification opener against the Liberians on Sunday gave a good feeling that Zimbabwean football is able to develop talent over time, build a core group of players and move from strength to strength.
Of the five, Danny Phiri and Kuda Mahachi have consistently turned out for the Warriors since catching the eye at the 2014 Chan finals.
Phiri, a colossal figure in Zimbabwe’s line-up in that tournament three years ago, has grown in stature as a holding midfielder of grit and class — that spotless performance against the Lone Star on Sunday showing how much the nation can rely on him in the post-Willard Katsande era.
Mahachi, the poster-boy of the Chan 2014 campaign for Zimbabwe, has only become more confident and purposeful as an attacking player.
While three years ago he was full of running but rather raw and wet behind the ears, he has become a more mature and dependable version — a genuine threat to anybody on his day.
Then there is another pair, goalkeeper George Chigova and defender Partson Jaure.
Chigova was a towering figure in goals for Zimbabwe at the 2014 Chan, while Jaure was a rock at the heart of Zimbabwe’s run to the semis. Both would surely have been part of the Warriors set-up more often had their names not been dragged into a match-fixing scandal they were never part of.
It must have felt very good for these two to finally bury the ghost of that Limpopogate scam on Sunday.
The fifth player from that impressive Chan campaign is Eric Chipeta. Rock-solid for Zimbabwe at the back in 2014, he however fell out of favour with the previous coaching staff, but also returned on Sunday to stake his claim as a key member of the Warriors squad.
Three years ago, these players plied their trade in the Zimbabwean league, and were part of the locally-based contingent of the national team.
Today, all but one strut their stuff outside the country, and are very much the frame for the main Zimbabwe national team.
It is a good story of progression to tell.