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Zimbabwe: Can Warriors Stand Against the Best?

posted by – June 25th, 2012

ARE we not expecting too much from our Warriors?This is the question that may be in many fans’ minds following Zimbabwe’s recent performances in the ongoing 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

With the final qualifying draw on which Zimbabwe joins Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, Tunisia, Zambia, Egypt or Morocco, Botswana, Cape Verde Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Uganda to be held on July 5, fans are wondering if the Warriors have what it takes to compete with the best.

When the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers draw was conducted pitting the Warriors against “lightweights” Burundi, the nation rejoiced because Burundi are a small football nation.

Zimbabwe is ranked 26th in Africa while Burundi is placed 14 places down the ladder.

Surprisingly, Burundi managed to beat the Warriors 2-1 in the first leg only to go down by a slender 1-0 in the second leg at the National Sports Stadium last Sunday.

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The Warriors also drew 0-0 with another “lightweight” Mozambique in a World Cup qualifier. Mozambique is seven places below the Warriors.

Big boys such as Guinea, who are ranked at number 14 on the continent, came to Zimbabwe and our team bowed their heads succumbing to a 1-0 loss.

The above results put paid to the school of thought that the Warriors are capable of contesting against the best on the continent.

This brings about the question of the calibre of the players and the leagues they ply their trade in. Most of them are based in the South African premiership, which is known more for its wealth than talent.

Moreover, the Warriors’ best player, Knowledge Musona, is a permanent feature on his team’s bench which has prompted them to loan him to another club to get game time. The same can be said of Ovidy Karuru.

The other question that has been raised is whether interim coach Rahman Gumbo is the right person for the job. Gumbo seems to be a good coach having won championships in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Botswana but he has failed to make an impact on the continent with respective teams, sparking doubts about his pedigree.

To make matters worse, Gumbo is not a full-time national coach and has divided loyalty between his club FC Platinum and the country.

Former Warriors player Paul Gundani, believes that there is enough talent in the country but preparations are always the biggest letdown.

“During the Dream Team era, we had a coach who was good at motivating players. The late Reinhard Fabisch was not technically talented, but he stood for the players and motivated them,” he said.

“We also did not have problems with regards to bonuses as Zifa had an agreement with the Dream Team that saw us getting 40% of gross gate taking.

“Remember we used to attract more than 50 000 fans everytime we played at the National Sports Stadium. At one time we got

Z$25 000 for a win which was a lot of money then. Moreover, Fabisch was substantive unlike the case of Gumbo,” he said. Fabisch would also stand up Zifa’s shenanigans.

Gundani also bemoaned the lack of continuity in the current Warriors set up.

“Fabisch kept a bunch of about 35 players between 1992 and 1995 and that meant the players knew each other well. Even the fans knew the first 11.

“Local coaches should also be accorded the same respect as foreign coaches, just the same way the association used to respect Fabisch,” he said.

Another former Warriors player Stanford “Stix” Mtizwa also echoed Gundani’s sentiments.

“We have the talent in the country. All we have to do is improve on our preparations. We need a substantive coach for the team.

“Maybe the 1-0 win over Burundi will motivate the players. It is also a good thing that Peter (Ndlovu) is working with the strikers,” he said.

Veteran soccer commentator Charles Mabika however feels that the Warriors are still a force to be reckoned with.

“I don’t think we played badly. It is just that we were not getting the goals. I wouldn’t like a situation where we will be drawn against Cote d’Ivoire or Ghana.

“I think we will have a chance playing a southern African team. We need to improve on our strike force by calling players such as Mike Temwanjira whom I understand is doing well in Romania,” he said.

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