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Chidzambwa vows to soldier on

By Eddie Chikamhi

Under fire Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa gave the biggest hint about his future when he stressed the need for continuity despite calls for his axing following the recent catastrophe at the AFCON tournament in Egypt.

Sunday Chidzambwa
Sunday Chidzambwa

Chidzambwa’s future with the senior national football team has been the subject of discussion of late after his toothless side was eliminated in the group stages without winning a game. This is the fourth time that Zimbabwe have crumbled at this stage.

There was furore back home when the Warriors signed off from the 24-team tournament in the worst possible manner after they capitulated to a 0-4 defeat at the hands of the Democratic Republic of Congo in their last Group A match on Sunday in Cairo.

Chidzambwa also said they were disappointed to come back home empty-handed after finishing bottom of Group A with only one point.

A combination of factors has been cited for the team’s miserable performances, chief among them the technical shortcomings and a host of administrative glitches that usually provided the scandalous side drama over outstanding payments throughout the competition.

There have been calls from some quarters for a technical reshuffle as Zimbabwe need to regroup and plan ahead for the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers due to start before the end of the year.

Chidzambwa, however, believes continuity will be key and has indicated he will not throw in the towel despite the criticism that has come his way.

Speaking to The Herald at Robert Mugabe International Airport soon after his arrival from Egypt yesterday, Chidzambwa said: “I think it’s up to the authorities (at ZIFA). I wouldn’t say they must do this or that, that’s not my area but in football I think you need continuity.

“In my case, I went to the AFCON finals first in 2004 and I only went back in 2019. You can’t play football like this, you won’t achieve. Then the next AFCON there will be someone again and the next someone again. Football shouldn’t be run like that,” said Chidzambwa.

But in normal circumstances, a coach is expected to quit after a disastrous campaign at any major international tournament.

Zimbabwe opened their campaign with a 0-1 defeat to hosts Egypt. They then blew a good chance for maximum points with 1-1 draw against Uganda. They still had a chance of qualifying if they had beaten the DRC in the last game but they fell to one of their heaviest defeats.

Chidzambwa believes poor finishing let the team down.

“We should have scored goals, especially against Uganda. It’s unfortunate that we had played Egypt in our first game; the host nation against a hostile crowd. I thought the boys did well, but if you don’t win games nobody will ever notice that you did well. But they gave a very good account of themselves against Egypt and I thought we would do well in the upcoming games.

“We didn’t do so well but I think the good thing on our part is that the guys played very good football. It’s unfortuante we didn’t win a game which is not good for us and for the fans.

“I thought we deserved to win at least one game but we missed a lot of chances against Uganda. The good thing is we were creating the chances but the negative part is for us to come back home empty-handed, without a win.

“Against the DRC, we just collapsed. I think there was an element of complacency. We had played the DRC twice, we beat them at their backyard and drew at home. So I thought maybe there was a bit of complacency on our side. They scored an early goal and we never came back. Sometimes that’s how football goes. To round off, I think we did badly in this tournament,” said Chidzambwa.

The Warriors arrived home yesterday to a quiet reception at the Robert Mugabe International Airport.

The veteran coach led a small group of players and officials and was the first to step out of the arrivals terminal in the company of his assistants Lloyd Mutasa, Brenna Msiska and team manager Wellington Mpandare.

They were in the same flight with skipper Knowledge Musona, Evans Rusike, Tino Kadewere, Jimmy Dzingai and Alec Mudimu. Three other players — Tafadzwa Kutinyu, Edmore Sibanda and Ronald Pfumbidzai — had arrived in a separate flight earlier on.

The rest of the Warriors contingent either flew back to their foreign bases or had connected straight to Bulawayo after a long flight from Cairo.

A group of supporters also arrived in-between the two flights, expressing mixed feelings about the team’s poor showing. But there wasn’t to be any ceremony to mark the arrival of the Warriors, who left the country last month in a carnival atmosphere for a dual assignment in the COSAFA Cup title defence in South Africa and the AFCON tournament in Egypt. They were largely unsuccessful in both outings. The Herald