By Makomborero Mutimukulu
The Warriors were shocking in the 0-1 defeat away to Liberia last Sunday, but their coach’s assessment of that 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier was even more outrageous.
“I think it was a very good game of football,” Warriors coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa was quoted saying soon after the Zimbabwe senior men’s national football team fluffed its lines against opponents who themselves appeared fluffy and were there for the taking.
Unless “very good game of football” has a new meaning the rest of the world is unaware of, it can be argued – as it is hereby done without fear or favour – that Chidzambwa was far from being honest in his assessment.
If that was “a very good game of football” then why are we not celebrating a fourth Afcon qualification?
“A very good game of football” gave Liberia a kiss of life and gave the Zimbabwe a Judas kiss.
“A very good game of football” ensured Congo Brazzaville will make the trip to Harare in March 2019 with something to play for.
Come on Mhofu, who are you kidding?
That display was abysmal, treasonous even, and everyone knows it.
While the Warriors still have destiny in their hands it must be highlighted that not once, but twice, the ticket to Cameroon 2019 has been handed to Zimbabwe.
And not once, but twice, the Warriors led by Chidzambwa have spurned it.
Now, not once, but twice, the coach is waxing lyrical about mediocrity and the players are sounding sheepish about what are undoubtedly sheep-like performances.
A win against DR Congo at the National Sports Stadium on the 16th of last month would have sealed the deal.
But the Warriors, who had stunned their Southern African rivals 2-1 three days earlier, drew that game.
The DRC didn’t even score that night. We scored for them. We scored for ourselves. And it ended 1-all.
To his credit, Teenage Hadebe apologised for his first half own-goal.
With a trip to a beatable Liberia following, and only a point standing between the team and a place at the Afcon dinner table where African football aristocrats dine once every 24 months, that DRC stalemate was given a “not a bad result” tag.
The supposedly easier trip to Monrovia yielded nothing but embarrassment, and Chidzambwa and his men need to be reminded to stop taking a football-mad nation for granted.
Yes, Tino Kadewere apologised for his selfishness and missed chances. But that doesn’t cut it. The Warriors need an attitude change.
There is always a tendency by some coaches and players to dismiss criticism with the “he-never-played-professional-football-so-he-cannot-be-taken-seriously” excuse.
But one does not need to be a football fundi to know that the Warriors have been playing without conviction.
Besides singing the national anthem at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex last Sunday, skipper Knowledge Musona and his ensemble did not show respect for the badge, for the flag, for the nation.
They never got out of first gear and never looked like they wanted to get out of it.
Kadewere looked like he was going through the motions in his garden in Le Harve, France; if he was in the military Khama Billiat would have been reported MIA.
The only time Billiat was visible was when he quickly stepped up to deliver poor free kicks.
On the bench, Chidzambwa and his assistants – Lloyd Mutasa and Rahman Gumbo – looked like they were somewhere far east of Tahiti without a compass and without a blessed breeze to steer their floundering ship to land.
It was as clear as daylight by the 15th minute that the Warriors were lackadaisical against opponents they smacked 3-0 in their Group G opener back in July 2017.
And instead of lighting a fire under the players, the coaches sat there as if they were in a boring Sunday School class and couldn’t wait to get home to watch WWE Survivor Series.
It was not until Liberia took the lead through skipper William Jebor on 72 minutes that Chidzambwa’s heart beat appeared to change, some stirring of life coming into him.
But the horses had bolted.
The Congo game is four months away and the message Chidzambwa and his team need to be told is short and clear: Zimbabwe deserves better, Zimbabwe demands better!
These are the Warriors. Not sissies. The Sunday Mail