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Cry, my beloved country


Let me start this article by outlining the positives in Zimbabwean football at the moment. Er, to be honest, I cannot think of any, so let’s move on.

The chaos in Zimbabwe appears to have reached a peak after the collapse of attempts to appoint a foreign coach.

Tom Saintfiet will not be coaching the Warriors because his application for a work permit has been rejected.

The Belgian left his job as Namibia coach in October to take up the Warriors post, but was forced out of the country last month.

Immigration authorities in Harare say Saintfiet was in breach of the country’s laws by holding training sessions with the Warriors before his work permit was issued.

He was preparing the national team for their second African Nations Cup qualifier match against Cape Verde before being ordered out, leaving former internationals Norman Mapeza and Madinda Ndlovu in charge of the Warriors.

Incredibly, Saintfiet has a four-year contract with the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
He is, therefore, likely to press for substantial compensation from the cash-strapped association.

After years of following Zimbabwe football, it is great to note that Zifa can still stupefy me.

Finding the right word to describe their efforts to engage the Belgian coach is difficult but take your pick from “bizarre”, “shambolic”, “bewildering” and “clueless”.

Four different adjectives with one underlying theme — they point to an organisation bereft of ideas and plans to drive the game forward.

What else can you say about the almost soap-opera nature of the Saintfeit debacle?

Similarly grotesque is the way Zifa has handled the Asian match-fixing fiasco involving many players and officials.

I am totally flummoxed by the surrealism of it all. It is quite simply an alarming state of affairs.

As a Zimbabwean, I am frustrated, dejected and angry.

This is about more than football — it is a blow not only to Zimbabwe’s national honour but African football as a whole.

It reinforces the argument that African football is populated by men (mostly) and women who cannot organise a bunfight in a bakery.

Although suspicions abound that the Belgian was caught on the wrong side of football politics, the fact of the matter is that football bigwigs in Harare were oblivious to the impact of appointing a coach who is not a universally-acclaimed pick among fans.

Quite frankly, how can any football association retain any kind of authority when it displays such a painfully obvious lack of football know-how and judgment? The jury is no longer out on the state of the game in Zimbabwe.

You do not need to be a genius to see that football in my motherland is broken.

It needs a root and branch examination.

South Africa’s 2010 World Cup theme, Ke Nako, means “it’s time”.

It really is time – time for radical changes need to the way the game is run, and that requires a new breed of administrators at Zifa.

It is naïve to believe that things will eventually sort themselves out.

Farayi Mugwenzi is a BBC Sport commentator

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