By Robson Sharuko
Six games, three coaches, 34 players used, only one victory, against Somalia, and just one goal scored on the road in 270 minutes of action.
For the Warriors, this has been a World Cup qualifying campaign plucked straight from hell. Somehow, amid all this gloom, their leaders at ZIFA still can see a light at the end of the dark tunnel and believe the future is bright.
“We fully understand the disappointment that comes with every unfavourable result from the national teams because we know just how much Zimbabweans love and support their team,’’ ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said in the statement.
“We are confident that the technical team and the players have what it takes to beat the best teams on the continent on a good day.
“ZIFA will take lessons from the two matches, and without compromising performance on the remaining World Cup matches, shift attention to the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations finals.
“The final two FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers will also be used to further prepare for the AFCON finals.
“ZIFA, as the institution responsible for football in Zimbabwe, therefore, takes full responsibility of the Warriors’ failure to qualify for World Cup, irrespective of several impediments that further complicated the journey.”
But, still a number of questions were not addressed by the statement:
Why did they fire the coach, Joey Antipas, who started this 2022 World Cup adventure, especially after his sensational victory, in Zambia in an AFCON qualifier appeared to show he had found a winning combination for the Warriors?
Even if they wanted to replace him, which is their prerogative, how did they end up settling for Zdravko Logarusic to come in as his replacement given the Croat’s lack of experience at this level?
Who are the other coaches, who were considered during the process which ended up with Loga being chosen as the best of the lot which had shown interest in becoming the head coach of the country’s senior national football team?
If those coaches were considered not to be at the same level as Loga, for all his shortcomings, what message does it send us, in terms of the value of our team, when such obscure characters are the ones who now show interest in coaching it?
What had influenced their decision to try and rope in Antipas as one of Loga’s assistants when it’s quite clear it would have been an insult to the Chicken Inn coach with all his experience to work under the Croat?
If Norman Mapeza is someone they had considered as good enough to coach the Warriors, why didn’t they try him from the word go to take control of the entire campaign rather than bring him in to try and clean the mess?
Where are those members of the so-called ZIFA technical and development committee, led by Bryton Malandule, who have been overseeing the recruitment of these coaches, and why have they suddenly gone quiet?
If, for instance, the recommendations they provided, especially in the recruitment of Loga were flawed, why is it that they seemingly have chosen to hide, rather than face the music, in the wake of this disastrous campaign?
What is the price which they have to pay, for their poor decision-making, which ended up with the Warriors being led by an inexperienced coach, eroding all the gains that the team had made, and deflating all its confidence?
What influenced the recruitment of Benjani Mwaruwari to come in as an assistant coach, and why was he sacked after spending less than a week with the Warriors, in a set-up in which he didn’t have the final say?
Can ZIFA really say that, in just one week, they found out that Benjani was not good enough to add any value to the team, and had to be pushed out so quickly from the national team set-up?
If, for instance, an assistant coach, can be fired after just a week, why is it that those who hired him can stay on for years, even though the results would be telling them there is something wrong, with their administrative model?
Is it possible that all these different coaches and assistant coaches who have been in charge of the Warriors during this disastrous World Cup campaign are poor and only those who have been hiring and firing them are right?
Hasn’t the time come for those who have been hiring them to start looking at themselves in the mirror, to start questioning themselves whether the problem really lies with the coaches, or those who have been hiring the coaches?
How did we expect our Warriors to get any rhythm, in the last two years, when they have only played just one friendly match against Malawi where many of their regular players did not even turn up?
Why is it that we hardly win at home any more, with the last victory in either a World Cup/AFCON group qualifier coming when we beat Congo-Brazzaville 2-0, at the National Sports Stadium, on March 24, 2019?
Of course, we beat Somalia 3-1, in a World Cup qualifier, on October 9, 2019, but that was a preliminary round match, an arena where the small boys are asked to play, before the main act gets underway.
There are so many questions, which demand answers, which were not dealt with in that statement packaged as an apology, that ZIFA gave to the nation.
Amazingly, where Reinhard Fabisch guided the Dream Team to 10 ’94 World Cup qualifiers, winning six, drawing two and losing two, we now have a strange scenario where in six qualifiers, we end up needing three coaches.
Where, in the last two years, between October 2019 and October 2021, Chipolopolo have played 10 friendly internationals, and the Warriors have played just one, against Malawi in Blantyre.
Where, Bafana Bafana, during that same period, have played four friendly matches, against Mali, Zambia, Namibia and Uganda, while the Warriors have played only one such game against the Flames.
Where, Malawi, the team we are set to meet in our 2021 Nations Cup group, have played five friendly internationals during the same period against Lesotho, Zambia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and ourselves, while we have only played one against them.
Where, even Botswana have featured in more friendly matches, including one against Egypt, while we have played just one match against the Flames.
And, after just one victory in our last 16 matches, we somehow can find a reason to talk about the future as being bright. The Herald