FOOTBALL fans and teams never really read too much into the pre-season, but there are occasions when it is folly not to do so.
Sports Panorama with Enock Muchinjo
The result of FC Platinum’s pre-season friendly with Zambian giants Zanaco and, perhaps more significantly, the manner in which they were blitzed 4-0 by the visitors in Zvishavane on Tuesday, raises fresh concerns over the standards of domestic football in this country.
The question will be asked as to whether the Zimbabwean champions will be able to withstand the heat in the 2018 African Champions League against the continent’s best, given how they were spanked by Zanaco who despite proving quite a handful in Africa’s inter-club competitions in recent times, are not by a long shot among the best on the continent. Further, if a team like Platinum cannot stand up to continental opposition, who in Zimbabwe will? On all fronts, Platinum look like the team best equipped to go all the way in the Champions League.
And you have to feel for Platinum, especially after Tuesday’s brutal reality check. Their commitment to professionalism and overall attitude towards the game is second to none in Zimbabwe.
But you get this unsettling feeling that not even them are ready to mount a serious challenge in Africa at the moment.
The events of Tuesday in Zvishavane have given Zimbabwean club football plenty of food for thought, once again.
It can never be overemphasised that we really have become poor now.
Caps United’s run last year, reaching the mini-league phase of the Champions League, was an exception.
Our Premier Soccer League (PSL) is now at its weakest ever.
Take, for instance, how players who have illuminated the PSL in recent times have spectacularly flopped abroad, and worryingly so in South Africa, a league which some observers, for some very strange reasons, perceive to be inferior to ours.
Zimbabwean club football needs a shake up, in terms of playing standards — making necessary modifications towards a high-performance management model.
A lot of the games in the PSL, to be brutally honest, are unwatchable.
You can certainly tell the difference in technical awareness between our clubs and continental opponents.
How many times have you seen in the PSL a brilliant goal that looks like it has come right off a training ground drill?
I wonder if winning the PSL title still gives the same satisfaction to the winners as before. The qualify just is not there.
Not to say there is a dearth of talent in Zimbabwe. Goodness gracious, there are some really fantastic individual players out there, and some very good coaches too.
But we are unable to string together a consistent style of play throughout a game.
An isolated moment of individual brilliance does not suffice.
It is not one or two teams. It is a national problem — a dysfunctional system.
Let us adopt a new style of play across the league, and indeed across the entire structure of Zimbabwean domestic football.