By Eddie Chikamhi
The Warriors horror show at the CHAN finals has once again provided a timely reminder of the precarious situation domestic football finds itself in right now.
Coach Zradvko Logarusic and his men finished bottom of the pile in Cameroon among all the 16 teams which took part.
The tourney is reserved for players still plying their trade in their domestic leagues and Zimbabwe reached the semi-finals in 2014 in South Africa.
However, the standards of the local game have taken a knock, since those dizzy heights, and the failure by authorities to, at least, organise some competitive matches last year, badly affected the Warriors.
A proposed tournament, which had been set for last month, with the primary aim of helping the Warriors, collapsed amid some boardroom battles between ZIFA and the Sports Commission.
The poor show in Cameroon has also led some to question the capacity of Loga to really add value to the Warriors.
The 56-year-old Croat is now expected to lead the Warriors in the AFCON and 2022 World Cup qualifying matches later this year.
However, Loga is yet to win a match since he was appointed to the hot seat in February last year.
He has presided over six games, to date, including the two back-to-back AFCON qualifiers against Algeria late last year.
The Warriors still have two more rounds before they could learn their fate in Group H, which also features holders Algeria, Zambia and Botswana.
ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, feels the best for the team is yet to come and results will improve this year.
“This is a year which we feel we have to get results, especially with the national team,” he told The Herald.
“We need to give our fans something to cheer about by qualifying for the AFCON finals. “We also need to focus on the World Cup qualification. This means we will need to plan ahead so that we achieve our targets.”
But going by the team’s performance in Cameroon, and the chaos that surrounded the preparatory process, ZIFA will need to up their game if the Warriors are to clear the final AFCON hurdles.
The position of the Warriors, who finished the tournament winless and without a point, was sealed at the conclusion of the group games on Wednesday night.
Loga’s men were the only team that finished the group games without a point after Namibia, the only other team which lost all their matches, ended their campaign with a goalless draw against Zambia.
The Warriors lost all their Group A matches after succumbing to defeats at the hands of Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mali. They lost 0-1 to Cameroon, in the opening match, before succumbing to a 1-3 thumping at the hands of Burkina Faso in their second game.
The Warriors completed their group stages with a 0-1 defeat by Mali, who topped the pool, and progressed to the quarter-finals together with hosts Cameroon. Namibia secured a point when they drew 0-0 with Zambia in their last Group D match on Wednesday.
Uganda also finished with one point in Group C while Libya anchored their group with two points.
The Warriors have since returned home and will be watching the rest of the tournament from a distance.
The quarter-finals of the tournament are scheduled to begin tomorrow.
This is the first time the Warriors have lost all their group matches at the tournament.
This is also the first time that they have scored only one goal and became the first team to be eliminated from the tournament.
The Warriors graced the inaugural event in Cote d’’Ívoire in 2009.
The tournament featured eight teams which were placed in two groups of four.
Zimbabwe finished third in Group B, which was topped by Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo, who went on to meet in the final before the Congolese won the tourney.
The Warriors qualified for the second edition in 2011 and they again finished third with three points in their pool that included Nigeria, South Africa and basement side Ghana. Their best performance was in the 2014 edition in South Africa where they reached the semi-finals under coach Ian Gorowa. They had finished second in their group with five points.
The Warriors worst performance at the CHAN tournament, until now, had been in 2016 when they ended with one point after losing to Zambia and Mali before drawing with Uganda in their group games.
They failed to qualify for the 2018 edition of the tourney and had been expected to return with a bang but they came terribly short in Cameroon. The Herald.