The recent early exit by the Zimbabwe senior national soccer team, the Warriors at the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON has been taken by some sections of the society with a bit of radicalism as the nation expected a better campaign by the boys in their third appearance at the continent’s most prestigious soccer tournament. However, it will be fair enough to consider the circumstances surrounding the build up to the tournament, particularly the level of preparedness for our team and the confusion within the soccer administration.
By Clifford Hlatywayo
It has been tradition for all footballing nations to have ample time in camping where appropriate facilities are in place as a way of bringing the players together, affording the coach an opportunity to instill his playing philosophy within the mindset of his players. This period then breeds perfect combinations, adequate assessment of individual player’s strengths and weaknesses so that the coach can then cover up for the weaknesses and exploit the strengths. Even with average players in terms of talent, its possible to produce a remarkable display, adequate training being a precursor though.
Our number one soccer team was not afforded such an opportunity ranging from the time in camping, issue of proper camping facilities, issue of payments, rewards and general motivation. At the tournament, you would find our players making a lot of stray passes, misjudgement with regards to through balls and lack of ball anticipation in the final third and so on. That serves as a firm indicator that the Warriors lacked ample time to train together and develop formidable partnerships ahead of the crucial tournament especially in a group of death where we found ourselves in.
It is in light of that background that we would like to categorically state that the Philip Chiyangwa led Zimbabwe Football Association has beyond doubt, failed to carry its mandate of being the flagship of the nation in terms of welfare of our players, fundraising money for soccer development programmes as well as funding our Warriors whenever need arises, organising friendly games for the Warriors ahead of crucial tournaments. Zifa has been largely preoccupied with misplaced priorities such as organising a lavish farewell dinner for people without proper preparedness, also people with empty pockets.
Meanwhile there is still hope for the Warriors to be given a befitting preparation, there is still hope for the players to be given their allowances and bonuses well in time, there is still hope for the development of junior football with adequate funding, there is still hope for a better life for sports professionals. The hope we have is premised on a nation and Government under the able leadership of President Morgan Tsvangirai. A government that will value sport, a government that will fund and develop sport, a government that will restore the dignity of sports as a profession in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will definitely host Afcon and other international sports tournaments under the MDC T people’s government.
Clifford Hlatywayo is the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) Shadow Minister of Sports, Recreation and Entertainment.