By Ellina Mhlanga
ZIMBABWEAN football coach Philip Zulu has said the failure by Soccer Star of the Year Dennis Dauda to get a contract at Azerbaijani club, Gabala, is a reflection of a national game on its knees.
Zulu, who is involved in the grooming of young players in England, said Dauda’s failure to land a contract was a sign that the game in this country was on its deathbed.
The coach said Dauda’s case was a reflection of where Zimbabwe football is, right now, and everyone — from the administrators, the coaches and the journalists — should be looking at themselves in shame.
Dauda was in Europe last week hoping to seal a deal with Gabala that would have seen him pocketing US$350 000 per year for two-and-half years.
But the defender failed to make the grade at the club following an assessment that was made by the club’s technical team after Dauda featured in a friendly match for the club last Wednesday in Turkey.
“I think reading through the report of the assessors who made the assessment one can feel that the remarks that were passed in terms of his ability on one-on-one situation, defending wise, movement in the game and the overall decision making simply shows that our level of coaching is very low,” said Zulu.
“It has become like a national indictment for our game at the highest level. Reflecting on the past, we had coaches like Ben Koffi, who made a statement that we have not done anything to achieve anything at the highest level and this has been proved again by the Gabala technical team that we are not prepared to be in line with change.
“Our football is in the doldrums as long as we keep ignoring reality like the Dauda case. His failure is not only about an individual, it’s a national thing, the football education system has failed Dauda, the sporting policy in this country has failed Dauda.
“All the clubs that he played for before have failed him.”
Zulu said Dauda’s failure to meet the grade at Gabala is as a result of how he was groomed at an early stage of his career.
“His failure has got to do with the way he was nurtured mentally at the ages of 10 up to 16.The coaching modules at that time did not address the things that he failed at this stage.
“Remember, he is our Soccer Star of the Year who gets a report of this magnitude from a club in Azerbaijan, we are not talking of top leagues in Europe, we are not talking of developing leagues in Europe.
“We are talking of a league that maybe five, 10 years down the line and a team that has just started, so it’s a very big wake-up call for us as a nation.
“We should all share his failure. He is a good player, everybody agrees, but the system let him down,” Zulu said.
The coach said the problem lies with those running the sport.
“We have talked about it for so many times that football development should be implemented with speed but the tragedy is our sports policy hasn’t fully decided on what to do in terms of making football an industry, like cricket who do a lot of international tours.
“You need people who are dedicated, people who are well equipped and well trained to deal with sport and the demands at the highest level.
“Our problem is that we have got too many people running football at the moment with less passion and less expertise. It’s going to take us a very long time to start producing players who will compete at the highest levels. Take for instance the Nigerians, the West Africans they have the majority of players in Azerbaijan which means in Zimbabwe we are not creating quality jobs for our young people.
“If Dauda had been in West Africa he would have grabbed this opportunity. Most West African Academies have relationships with top European clubs. I have seen a lot of academies from Ghana coming to Europe training with top clubs in Europe.
“So they understand the culture of what Dauda failed to do in his trials. So, starting with academies here, they need to be streamlined. They need a lot of support from the government.” The Herald