Warriors, Caps put Zim in the spotlight

MY subject matter for the last two weeks seemed to all come together with two significant results on Sunday that rather put Zimbabwean football into its rightful place.

Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo

The Warriors won a record fifth Cosafa title on Sunday.

The Warriors won a record fifth Cosafa title on Sunday.

Last week I offered an insight on what I thought we should make of our Cosafa Cup run. That was before the final, and after Zimbabwe’s impressive showing to beat Zambia 3-1 to win the trophy. I should add that the result pretty much confirms our place at the top of the game in this part of the continent.

It is a befitting honour that Zimbabwe should win their record fifth Cosafa title in the same year the country was proudly the only team from Southern Africa to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.

It is something to beat our chests about.

There cannot be any further doubt over Zimbabwe’s position as a torchbearer of football in this region, a status we are greatly proud of as a nation. Yet, on the other hand, we still get reminded how we are still far behind the rest of the continent, how vulnerable we are, once we step out of the comfort zone of the region.

Having cheered being the Cosafa region’s sole representative at the Afcon in Gabon earlier this year, the Warriors fell down with a thud at the tournament, a rather brutal reality check for a team we had expected so much of. Our problem at Afcon level is not in isolation.

A fortnight ago I had bemoaned what I called stagnation in standards at the African club football level, with Caps United’s performance this year a case in point.

Credit to Caps for reviving their campaign with that outstanding win over Zamalek, to be just three points away from progressing past the group stage of the African Champions League. So near yet so far it would eventually prove.

Once they left it until that late — needing to pull off perhaps the greatest night in their club’s history last Sunday in Algeria — Caps faced the grave danger of capitulating under pressure on North African soil, often an unhappy hunting ground for Zimbabwean teams. Our worst fears were confirmed when USM Algiers romped to a 4-1 win in the Algerian capital on Sunday to deny Caps a historic feat.

That Caps had beaten North African sides twice at home in the campaign, but were so horrible on the road, further exposes the professional aspect of the game that lacks in our sides when we travel up north.

The mindset is a big thing here too.

I was with Dynamos in Tunisia in 2012 when the players just froze there on the stage, leaving Esperance wondering what they had done to deserve a half-a-dozen goal gift from Zimbabwe.

The inability to recover from setbacks and retain shape under attack, basic requirement of any football team at any level, is worryingly absent and I foresee it being an eternal problem if modern coaching methods are not applied and mindsets not overhauled.

The good thing that has come out of Sunday’s two results is that an accurate perspective of the game has been created for Zimbabwean football to work with.

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