By Phillip Zulu
The recent FIFA world ranking index, where we are pegged at 107, is “the devil in the detail” catch, as we pursue our first ever World Cup qualification, in Qatar 2022.
Our pursuit, to join some of the world’s best football nations such as Brazil, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Argentina, in Qatar, should rigorously evoke a high sense of responsibility.
And, a deep understanding of what lies ahead of us, in terms of top global talents, which are vying to showcase their virtuoso sublime skills at the festival of dreams.
Our dream is a generational quest to exorcise our demons and, for the very first time, seek to rub shoulders with the very best in world football so that our history records such an important milestone, for posterity.
We have to take a leaf from the host nation Qatar, how they also exorcise their demons, as they leave no stone unturned, with their preparations for the 2022 World Cup jamboree.
When Qatar won the rights to host this tournament, they planned to invest over US$200 billion on:
Infrastructural developments on all roads, railways, hospitals, highways, ports, hotels, stadiums, and much more.
Improve their local league standards by investing over US$12 billion in hiring top world-class coaches, creating partnerships with top European clubs, increasing participation in their grassroots levels and expanding their foreign networks by engaging in exchange programmes with foreign clubs, to recruit their youngsters, who are developed in their leagues.
Reduce and bring down the FIFA world ranking index then, it stood at 95, and a huge phenomenal injection of capital to lower the deficit to around number 50, on the rankings.
Their strategic planning, underpinned with a massive financial clout of the oil reserves, will see them achieve almost 90 percent of their targets, before the end of this year.
It is an indication of their commitment to make a good impact in this tournament.
Qatar are currently ranked at 58, in the FIFA world rankings, representing a big jump from their previous positions, which hovered above 95-plus.
Money talks and, indeed, their story shows exactly that as they now have young players, turning up in the Spanish La Liga teams, and making good impressions.
Qatar’s blueprint for developing their young players hinged on allowing their young fledging players to be signed, on exchange programmes, which would prepare them for top-flight professional football in Spain, and other European leagues.
This was meant to expose these players to the demands of competitive markets so as to build the spine of their national team for the World Cup 2022 finals.
To the Qataris, this approach and endeavour, is a national drive that has revolutionised their infrastructural development, and economic growth. And, as Zimbabweans, it’s our to gatecrash into their party but, our drawing board plans, are the direct opposite of Qatar.
We are the antidote of what could even shock Qatar’s deep oil financial resources, when it comes to the deficit reduction of the world rankings, as we project further positive results, starting with the first fixture of the World Cup qualification, against South Africa.
Targeting three wins and three draws, in these World Cup qualifiers, a few good convincing wins in friendlies, and by seeking to reach the knockout stages of the AFCON finals, will forge our own desired possible future ranking index, at around 60 or lower, despite lack of resources.
South Africa are choking.
They have a world-class football infrastructure but the standards, and results, coming out of those fields, have been extremely disappointing.
Money does not buy LOVE, so they say.
The recent inspiring article in this newspaper, by former Dynamos coach, Lloyd “MaBlanyo” Chigowe, was as refreshing as it was educative. It spoke about the importance of top-flight junior football development.
And, this calls for the enrolment of youngsters, who are Under-7s, and averaging around six, as a long-term Futsal project, which has produced good numbers of talent, which should be ready to knock on the national team doors of the Under-17 and Under-23s, sooner.
MaBlanyo hit the nail on the head when he said in Germany, they are already in motion with their Under-6s models, for further development for their national squads.
When others are spending astronomical figures, we were busy implementing long-term strategic plans to develop young Zimbabweans in England, from Under-6s to Under-15s, using intensive Futsal programmes.
These programmes have managed to produce more than 15 players that are engaged with professional academies, youth and senior teams, as emerging talent. Contrast these numbers with Qatar, we have an upperhand of youngsters in top-flight territory, than them.
Despite the fact that their league is well-sponsored and managed, we can have a sigh of relief in knowing that our predicament has got a silver lining, in terms of selecting players, from the most competitive leagues in world football.
The fact that Qatar doesn’t have their top talents, in the English Premiership, sends a signal to our frontier that we have what it takes to compete with most teams, in the same boat as us. South African football is struggling to breathe, as their players are non-existent in the English Premiership, which is the benchmark of top-flight competitive football.
Ethiopia are also in the same bracket and Ghana pose a serious challenge, and threat, as they have good numbers.
This analysis is a critical attempt to highlight the importance, and impact, of the scholarly works carried out in UK, when we set out to develop our youngsters, without bulging wallets filled with oil money, like those in the Gulf.
What others are achieving with billions, we have managed to do so, by coaching young Zimbabweans to progress, into top-flight professional academies.
Zimbabwe poses the biggest threat to Ghana, and the other teams, in our World Cup qualification group.
Especially now, as our young players increase their presence in European leagues, beyond this 2022 World Cup, in Qatar.
Our conveyor belt looks impressive and has gathered momentum, World Cup 2026 and 2030 plans, are in motion as more youngsters are signing for top academies.
We are a country on the move, in football, and there could be no stopping us. The Herald