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Lot Chitakasha: Lessons from AFCON…. my thoughts and way forward

By Lot Chitakasha

The curtain came down on what has turned out to be an interesting, dramatic and often error strewn Afcon tournament (often from the men between the sticks.. the goalkeepers).

Lot Chitakasha
Lot Chitakasha

1. Our Warriors… I am reminded of mukoma Franco Hobodo’s song… “Kana mumba musina mari, mitauro haiperi…” Two words became synonymous with the Warriors campaign.. ” impasse…” and Stand off..! The Bonus issue simply refused to go away and became the tournament.

The Football played second fiddle. Yes other Nations had Bonus issues as well like Cameroon, but Cameroon resolved this at home. They simply refused to board the plane. They came a day or two before the tournament. Lesson learnt.. Bhora haridi noise!

2. For the Warriors, in future contracts must be agreed and they should be incentivised contracts. Bonuses should match progress. At the moment, whatever money they got… fans have every right to ask… What for?.. We had high hopes of reaching at least the 1/4 final… We Failed!

3. Zifa leadership should up their game. This was not how to plan a tournament. The carrying of councillors, family members and church members was an unnecessary distraction.

It gave ammunition to critics and Zifa should have focused on the Football rather than all these sideshows. For Zifa President Felton Kamambo, this was his opportunity to put a stamp on his leadership. He did not and as such the tournament was a debacle.

4.On the field of play, the Warriors disappointed, some comic misses, some comic goalkeeping. After the first game, performances went a gear lower. The Coaching team failed to inspire.

5. Kugara nhaka kuona dzevamwe… Madagascar showed us what can be achieved through unity of purpose, passion and playing for the flag. They did not have star players, most of them play in the lower leagues in France, one is in Thailand and ReUnion.

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If Mhofu had called a player plying his trade in Thailand ainzi “akadhakwa..” If he had called a player earning a living in Reunion, charges of being bought would have been laid on his doorstep. If he had called a bunch of players from France’s 4th division, many would have called for his head to be examined. Vanity! As fans we judge harshly!

But these are the players who took Madagascar to the 1/4 final.. a place which we thought our Warriors deserved. Madagascar earned their place, we did not but in our vanity, we still think we are a better football Nation. It is a Zimbabwean National character… Vanity in all things. But well.. “Bhora harinyepe…”! Neither does the state of our country, but i digress.

4. The Champions Algeria… Makorokoto/Amhlope. I learnt one thing from them… Passion, playing for the flag! Passion from the Fans, passion for the Country. Most Algerian players are born in France, they train and even play for the French junior teams.

But this does not dim the passion they have for Algeria. They love Algeria, they love to win for Algeria. They are Diasporans but their hearts are etched on the Algerian flag. In the semifinals as they were taking penalties, some players cried… This was passion.

In the motherland,, Dual citizenship is a feared creature. But if the talent which is scattered on the globe is to be utilised, this unfounded fear has to be tamed.

Algerians have shown us, one can grow up away from the Motherland but the love for the Motherland will remain strong. The Algerian coach was born in France but he is as Algerian as any one of the Algerians who have never left the country.

Zim leaders should think about this…

4. Last but not least I believe in a two frontal approach to Football development. The home constituency, which is the largest constituency should be developed. We must have a football development strategy. It is not difficult, it just needs commitment.

Utilise people who have a passion for junior development.. legends like Moses Chunga, Alois Bunjira, I have total faith in Stanley Chirambadare, Tulani Thulani Biya Ncube, Methembe and many others. “Musavavharire kunze…” Train as many teachers as possible because they spend time with kids. Pursue the Rural talent, again that is a large often ignored constituency. Develop a football curriculum which will be taught to all junior players. Let us have a football identity.

And yes, more playing pitches, Councils must help.. Musavake dzimba pese pese!

The other front is the Diaspora One. This should work in tandem with the home front. The two should not be mutually exclusive. For this to happen, the Political Leadership should put in place laws that help those born in the Diaspora. Do not put archaic laws, do not be afraid of shadows. Be progressive and laws should reflect this!

Football is a multi billion industry. Let us grow our league, let us develop our teams, let us give every young person a chance and let our Leaders both football and Political share this passion. It will make their lives much easier, it will secure their legacies.

Danke and One love!!